Health and safety advisers, practitioners or managers, sometimes known as health, safety and environmental officers or occupational health and safety officers, are responsible for maintaining and improving health and safety in the workplace. They make sure that legislation is adhered to and assist in planning, implementing, monitoring and reviewing the health and safety strategies of an organisation.
The role also includes formulating operational procedures that recognise hazards. They seek to minimise conflict between safety and production considerations and assess risk and propose workable solutions.
Depending upon the size and type of organisation, they may advise on fire regulations, safeguarding machinery, noise, hazardous substances, occupational health and environmental health. Duties are likely to include: formulating and implementing codes of practice and regulations; carrying out regular inspections and risk assessments; maintaining accident records; advising on appropriate protective clothing/equipment and on the cost of implementing changes; and arranging internal and external training for employees on safety issues.
When accidents occur health and safety advisers lead the investigations, identify the causes, advise on any improvements in safety standards that need to be made, and write reports. They also liaise with other agencies and professionals, such as officers of enforcing authorities like the Health and Safety Executive.
Health and safety advisers usually work 37 hours a week but may be on standby duty in case of emergencies or accidents. Shift working and unsociable hours may be required.
Visits to a number of sites may be required. Outdoor working (sometimes in extreme weather conditions) is essential in processing complexes, on offshore installations, building and construction sites and where the work involves transportation. They may also be required to work at heights or in cramped positions.
Some health and safety advisers may undertake these duties as part of a wider role in personnel, facilities management or similar.
To be a health and safety adviser you should:
Health and safety advisers work mainly in an industrial, manufacturing or processing company. Other employees include the hotel and catering industry as well as public services like hospitals and government departments.
There is scope to move to management positions although promotion may be achieved by moving to a large company or specialising in a certain aspect of the work. There are some opportunities to work overseas. Self-employment and consultancy may be an option.
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