What does a safety officer do?
As a safety officer, it’s your job to keep people safe in the workplace. If you have an eye for detail, are a problem solver and love all things health and safety, this could be the job for you!
An expert in the dangers that could preside in your working environment, your job involves careful planning to reduce the number of injuries, accidents and health problems that may occur. You will spend your time educating employees to take precautions, to keep themselves and any equipment they may be expected to use, safe. With every working environment being different to the next, this could be teaching techniques to help cope with the hours employees spend staring at a computer screen, to using potentially dangerous tools on a building site.
As well as being good with people, you’ll need to be hot on typing up reports and knowing your health and safety legislations – this is where a training course comes in! Your job will involve the practical elements of health and safety, but also the behind the scenes planning, creating policies for the workplace and ensuring they work. Regular inspections and risk assessments are a must, as are accident records and keeping up to date with changes in the law.
Is this the job for me?
We can’t work out whether or not you’d enjoy the job, but we can help you decide whether you’re a good fit. In order to do well as a safety officer you will need to have good communication and presentation skills, or in other words, be a people person. Persuading reluctant employees that health and safety is important can be a challenge, so you will need to be able to negotiate with tact and diplomacy. You will also need to be able to work with a logical mind when investigating accidents in the workplace. If you aren’t good working under pressure and don’t enjoy a challenge this might not be the role for you!
What are the working hours like?
Most safety officers will work a pretty standard Monday to Friday nine till five, so 37 to 40 hours a week. It’s worth noting however, that this might be different depending on the company you are keeping safe and the industry you are working within. Sometimes you may be required to work shifts and overtime, especially in the event of an emergency.
Where will I be based?
Again, this is really dependent on the industry, but more often than not you will be based in an office. That said, you might be asked to spend parts of your working day in other environments, such as a factory or a building site to check things are running smoothly.
How do I get there?
Although it’s now common for most health and safety advisers to come into the profession with a degree, but this is not always the case. If you want to gain a job as a safety officer, the right training is essential. It’s a good idea to have an idea of the industry you want to work in before searching for a course, as this will usually affect your decision.
All courses will cover the health and safety legislations you need in the workplace, as well as regulations, risk assessments and accident investigation techniques. The three main courses taken by aspiring safety offices are –
Level 3 Award in Health and Safety in the Workplace
Level 3 (NVQ) Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety
National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety
To gain a full time position at a company, they will often expect you to have a qualification approved by the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), so look out for this when you are choosing your course.
If you are already working in the industry, there are a number of more advanced qualifications you can gain to help you excel in your current role, or get a new one. These include the National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety; Level 5 (NVQ) Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety Practise and the Level 6 Certificate/Diploma in Applied Health and Safety.
Need more information?
If you are interested in finding out more, here are some handy places to go for advice –
British Safety Council
National Examination board for Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH)
Institution of Occupational Health and Safety (IOSH)