Internal vs External DGSA

Choosing between an internal or an external Dangerous Goods Safety Adviser (DGSA) is the classic hire vs buy business decision.

Do you train up a member of staff or bring in a Consultant? Here’s some Advantages and Disadvantages to help you decide:

Advantages: Internal DGSA

  • Internal DGSA’s often have a better understanding of the organisation they advise
  • Depending on who you choose, they will likely have experience of your products, processes and customers
  • They have existing relationships with other members of staff, so their BS detector may be more finely-tuned than that of a visiting Consultant
  • An internal DGSA is normally more cost-effective than a Consultant DGSA
  • Once qualified, DGSA certification lasts for 5 years
  • You may find it easier to get in touch with your staff member. After all, you should know where they are during their contracted hours.
  • Part of the responsibilities of a DGSA is to monitor compliance. This includes:
    • assisting with procurement decisions
    • monitoring training of other staff
    • updating policies and procedures
  • All of the above would also fall within the remit of an external Consultant, but may be easier for the internal DGSA, just due to the proximity of issues and processes.

Disadvantages: Internal DGSA

  • Like with any member of staff, stuff happens, and your DGSA could leave for any number of reasons. Succession and contingency need to be pro-active considerations
  • Internal DGSA’s often fulfil another role. Asides from not having sufficient time to complete their duties, they may also be monitoring what is essentially their own (other) role.
  • The DGSA exam is no gimme. It’s a challenging qualification for most, and they will need to concentrate on that (and only that) for a couple of weeks. You will need to give them the time and space if you want to see the return on investment.
  • One of the principal responsibilities is the completion of an annual report. Neither the training nor the qualification covers that aspect of their role. They may need additional assistance.

Advantages: External DGSA

  • External consultants are independent of your staff and should be able to operate without fear or favour
  • They can provide you with the benefit of their experience with other clients (similar issues, best practices etc)
  • Some consultants are specialist experts for a particular class of dangerous goods or transport mode
  • Some generalists may even be able to offer advice on other matters such as transport rates and customs formalities.

Disadvantages: External DGSA

  • An external DGSA will normally work out more expensive over a five year period
  • When conducting an audit, they can be met with the smell of fresh paint (figuratively) and a cheery ‘nothing to see here’
  • The best ones will be in-demand, which means they will possibly have other commitments when you need them
  • You may need to think more carefully about what level of support you require
  • Project work such as the drafting of policies or additional site visits are likely to be supplementary costs to any annual agreement.

Indicative Costs: Internal DGSA

Training and exams: £1,560

Time away from work: 2 weeks salary

Qualification lasts 5 years

Note: This is on the basis of passing the exam at the first attempt and doesn’t include any contingency staffing arrangements for holidays, sick leave etc.

Indicative Costs: External DGSA

Annual agreement: £400-£1500*

Over 5 years: £2,000-£7,500

*The cost and quality of Consultant DGSA’s is like many other purchases in life. Whether it’s mechanics, sheds, or even tomato ketchup – you often get what you pay for.

Summary: Internal vs External DGSA

If you’re in constant need of dangerous goods advice, on a day to day basis, then you may be best training up your own employee(s).

Conversely, if your internal DGSA has just left the business and you’ve found issues that haven’t been dealt with, you may choose the option of an external DGSA. This external scrutiny would be useful to get your governance of dangerous goods back on track.

You may also decide on a third option: both internal and external provision. Some companies train a member of staff as an internal DGSA but also utilise a Consultant as contingency. You may even decide to transition an internal DGSA into the role with the assistance of an external DGSA.

Cost will obviously be a key consideration for which option you choose, but hopefully you’ll appreciate that it shouldn’t be the only driver.

Where next?

If you’ve decided to train up a member of your own staff to act as your DGSA, hopefully you’ll entrust your training requirements to us.

If you’ve decided that a Consultant DGSA is the best option, we’ll have to signpost you elsewhere as it’s Training that’s our ‘thing’. However, we can advise where you might start your search for a Consultant:

*The British Association of Dangerous Goods Professionals (BADGP) has a list of its members who offer Consultancy services.

*Peter East Associates

* Full disclosure – I have involvement with the organisations above. There are other very credible and worthy organisations who offer a DGSA Consultancy service, but these are the ones I know, and can recommend. The signposts are not paid links. They are just provided so you have something actionable once you’ve made a decision.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. I hope you found it useful.

If you have any questions, please contact us and we’d be happy to help.