A health and safety officer has the important role of protecting both the workers and workplace and ensuring the organization is compliant with government requirements. This position may also be called workplace, occupational or environmental health and safety officer. A health and safety officer may work for a variety of employers such as biotechnology companies, schools, government, health authorities or private companies.
The primary functions of a health and safety officer are to develop, monitor and implement the organization’s health and safety policy; to ensure the organization is compliant with health and safety legislation; and to reduce or prevent hazards, dangers and accidents. This role not only ensures the health and safety of the workers but also of the workplace, environment and general public.
The responsibilities of a health and safety officer are many, and may include the following:
Develop and implement policies: ensure policies and procedures are in place and enforced.
Inspections: inspect the workplace for potential hazards, identify potential hazards, assess the risks and report potential hazards.
Conduct drills: conduct drills, such as fire drills, to ensure equipment is properly functioning and staff are aware of what to do in an emergency.
Conduct investigations: respond to and investigate accidents and emergencies.
Ensure compliance: ensure the organization is compliant with legislative and regulatory requirements, conduct trainings with staff to make sure they are aware of regulations and procedures and provide guidance.
Administrative tasks: keep records of daily activities, monitor workers’ compensation program and maintain reference materials.
A bachelor’s degree in environmental health or related field is typically required for this position along with at least five years experience in areas such as fire prevention, environmental health, industrial hygiene or safety. Furthermore, continuing education, such as safety training classes, is often required.
In addition to education and previous experience, there are a number of skills needed to be a health and safety officer. These may include the ability to prepare plans, reports and budgets; basic computer skills; and extensive knowledge of federal, state and local laws and statistical analysis. Other attributes sought by employers include the ability to solve problems, the capability of carrying equipment and the physical endurance to perform emergency responses.
According to PayScale, an environmental health and safety officer’s salary averages between $42,000 and $69,000. Employees with one to four years experience can expect to earn between $41,000 and $60,000, while those with more than 20 years experience average $52,000 to $88,000.
2016 Salary Information for Occupational Health and Safety Technicians
Occupational health and safety technicians earned a median annual salary of $48,820 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, occupational health and safety technicians earned a 25th percentile salary of $37,610, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $63,190, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 18,100 people were employed in the U.S. as occupational health and safety technicians.