All too often safety professionals are asked to work as part of a legal proceeding without a full understanding of what is actually involved. Such was the case for me when I began my work as a designated Expert. Looking back, I can see that my initial exuberance to venture into areas where I was not appropriately prepared was similar to allowing employees to engage in activities for which they are not properly prepared and in which they are not properly trained.
So how does one go about becoming successful in the legal field? The answer is the same as other areas in which we work as Safety Professionals in helping to ensure that those we work with are adequately prepared to do their jobs. We first need to have adequate training on the issues involved in doing the work. The training programs should ensure that you have a full understanding of the role of the expert witness, the hazards involved in the process of working in the field, and procedures that can be used to help you gain confidence and success as you work.
The training that you get can be formal and include reading books and articles on the topics, taking classes such as those offered at the ASSE Professional Development Conferences (PDC), and thorough a review of case studies such as those presented later in this paper. Regardless of how it is done, this is not an area where one can simply jump into, and through a process of trial and error, somehow achieve success. This paper will provide an overview of the steps that can be used and will provide some case studies showing how the techniques developed by the author have led to success in this field.