A New Career Path: Becoming a Workplace Health and Safety Officer

Workplace Health and Safety Officer

by Julianne Mercer, Negosentro |

With more than half a million of work-related injuries and diseases per year in Australia and teens getting injured at work every nine minutes in the USA, it’s clear why developing a career as a workplace health and safety officer is not just a good personal choice but also a necessity. Workplace health and safety officers are needed in every type of industry – from high-risk, such as mining and constructions, to any kind of small business. There are plenty of positions opening in the job market while the salary is competitive, so it’s obvious why WHS officer’s positions are pretty wanted right now. Here’s how you can become one.

Why is it important?

For starters, just imagine the number of young people entering the workforce each year and their general knowledge of risks and hazards than can occur in a work environment. Pretty scary, right? Well, WHS officers are there to make workers more conscious of possible workplace accidents, such as falls, vehicle accidents, overexertion injuries as well as workplace violence.

All of these things happen every day and can destroy not only individuals and families but whole companies as well. For a worker, a serious injury at work can mean lost wages, large medical bills, and even long-term unemployment if the consequences of an injury get serious.

As always, getting educated and properly trained can minimize the risk and that’s where WHS officers come to the rescue. They’re here to protect the workers, the employers, and everybody else involved.

How to get there?

As for the career requirements, becoming a workplace health and safety officer usually demands at least a bachelor degree and even a master degree for some positions. Some of the desirable degree fields are occupational health, industrial hygiene, physical science, etc. but there are also plenty of courses available both offline and online, where you can get acquire certifications that will guarantee you knowledge and skills needed for the job.

As for the experience, most employers require at least 5 years but that can vary from company to company. Voluntary certifications are also welcome but not mandatory while the most important thing is the specific set of skills you need to have. Since you’ll be working with people primarily, strong communication skills are a must as well as problem-solving and technical skills.

Being attentive to details is always a plus while being in a good physical condition might be one of the essential requirements. Coping under pressure and making unpopular choices will be a big part of your daily job, so make sure you’re ready for that if you decided to follow a new career path and become a workplace health and safety officer.

What do they do?

As a workplace health and safety officer, you can choose to specialize in one area and be responsible only for a specific type of machinery or fire safety, or you can be responsible for all the issues that can occur in a work environment. Either way, your main job will be to prevent injuries and diseases and to provide all employees with a safe environment to work in.

A WHS officer should create various policies that will keep the workers safe and ensure occupational health and safety policies are observed. Also, a WHS officer must make sure that a company has a good evacuation plan as well as emergency warning system.

Finally, a good workplace health and safety officer should inspect work sites for potential hazards and risks and make sure all dangerous and toxic materials are removed from the workplace.

As you can see, being a WHS officer brings a lot of responsibility with it, but it’s also a very rewarding job. Making sure your coworkers are safe, always trying to improve things, and being respected in your work field – what can be better than that?