How to Become a Workplace Health and Safety Officer

While passion for a certain area of work is very important, one of the factors that influence the most on one’s decision about a career path is the demand for that position. And what do employers search the most for these days?

Well, they want to fill the positions that will save them the most money. How to do that? By preventing unnecessary loss of money, obviously. Here’s one interesting fact for you: according to a 2012 report, the estimated economic cost of work-related illnesses and injuries in Australia was about $60 billion.

As a result, the Australian Government predicted strong growth for occupational health and safety jobs until 2019, and the situation is similar in other developed countries. So, if you are interested in this profitable line of work, here are some tips on how to get a piece of the cake.

Study work health and safety courses

As you might have already figured out, becoming a safety officer is not something you can achieve overnight. Before you even think about searching for career prospects you must become qualified for that position. Depending on the country where you are planning on gaining your experiences, there will be different courses from this area. In Australia, there are two highly recognized courses (Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety and Diploma of Work Health and Safety), while in the U.S. you have courses provided by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Academy) and other organizations. The courses usually last between six and 12 months, and at the end you get a certificate.

Skills you need to acquire

Through these basic courses and further training, you will need to acquire basic skills that you will use every day as a workplace health and safety officer. Some of the core duties you will need to be trained in are:

  • Identifying risks and hazards at the workplace
  • Participating in work health and safety management systems
  • Assessing and controlling risks
  • Assisting in responding to accidents
  • Reviewing the compliance to health and safety legislation

As your career path is progressing, you will be able to take on senior roles and improve by learning the following skills:

  • Investigating health and safety risks
  • Managing the health and safety consultation processes
  • Contributing to development, implementation and maintenance of management system
  • Writing safety reports and other similar documents
  • Facilitating the development and use of risk management tools

There is also the possibility of specializing in high risks and training for specific equipment or jobs, such as:

  • Elevated work platforms
  • Scaffolding
  • Forklift operation
  • Confined spaces

If you decide for such a step, you should be familiarized with the equipment companies are using, as well as the best safety equipment manufacturers in your area. Also, if you specialize in one specific piece of equipment, you need to be acquainted with all those related to it. For instance, Fire Safe ANZ emergency warning system is used in conjunction with fire indicator panels, so you need to know how to operate those, as well.

Finding a job in workplace health and safety

After you successfully master the courses you need and decide how you want to get involved in this profession, it will be the time to pursue careers as a safety officer. While you can work as a safety consultant or representative in one of the many companies that require that position, after some time and experience, you can also search for a job as a safety officer trainer.

Some of the places where you can apply for such a position are registered training organizations, high schools or universities that offer safety certificate, businesses that offer training to their staff and non-profit organizations.

The demand for workplace health and safety careers is growing, and many companies are hiring their own safety consultants and representatives. This growth is expected to continue, so if you decide to invest your time and effort into training and gaining experience, it will probably prove to be a wise choice.'

Author: CarolinPetterson

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