Health & Safety Officer jobs(Also known as Health and Safety Inspector, Health and Safety Awareness Officer)
A Health and Safety Officer ("HSO") is responsible for monitoring a company's compliance with health and safety law and providing advice to both companies and employers on the work environment. This will involve both desk based monitoring as well as company visits. An HSO is any member of staff working for either the Health and Safety Executive ("HSE"), local government, or a similar body, who is specially trained to monitor compliance with Health and Safety Law. As well as compliance monitoring HSOs are also expected to provide advice and promote health and safety awareness in the workplace. This may include advice on legal as well as technical issues. HSOs will on a day-to-day basis liaise with company management to ensure that employees' safety is being considered within the work environment, providing advice on how to comply with legislation and maintaining records of companies' compliance. Besides the advisory function, HSOs are also responsible for enforcing compliance if a company exhibits flagrant disregard for legislation. This can involve legislative enforcement or, in a worst-case-scenario, closing down the business. When making a company visit HSOs are responsible for recording information and may make use of specialist equipment to do so. The overall role is to make sure that there is nothing that will or potentially could jeopardise the health of the employees of a firm. Evidence collected may include monitoring of noise or pollution, making sure that equipment is safe and machine guards are in place where necessary.
SalaryThere is a banded scale for employees working for both the HSE or a local government authority; however, depending upon the role, size and location of the local authority, pay scales will differ. Graduates and inexperienced employees should expect to start on around £25,000 - £40,000 with management roles increasing to £60,000+. There has also been an increasing number of private sector companies advising on health and safety issues and working on a consultancy basis. Salaries are likely to be similar to local authorities but the most successful consultants can expect to earn £100,000+. There is also likely to be a defined benefit pension scheme available to all HSE and local government employees as well as life assurance and income protection benefits. There is a pre-prescribed expenses and mileage allowance available. UNISON is the main trade union for local government authorities and is active in petitioning for pay increases.
- Carrying out routine inspections, including collating evidence and taking samples as necessary
- Investigating complaints in the work environment
- Ensuring compliance with legislation and making sure that an employer is not being negligent with regards to the safety of its staff
- Advising on technical and legal issues
- Working with other professionals such as scientists, laboratory staff and lawyers
- Collecting evidence and building case files including maintaining a database of inspections and actions outstanding
- Presenting information in court or other public enquiries
QualificationsIn order to practise you must have completed a BSc or MSc in environmental health, accredited by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health ("CIEH") in England, Wales and Northern Ireland or the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland ("REHIS"). In order to get onto the course you will need to have either NVQs or A-levels. It will be advisable to study science based subjects such as chemistry, physics and mathematics but these are not essential. You will most likely need 5 A-Cs at GCSE and a B or higher in mathematics. There is a wide range of courses available and sandwich courses which give you a year's experience are common. The CIEH also requires you to engage in continual professional development ("CPD") and complete a logbook before awarding the full charter.
- you will need to be calm with the ability to work in potentially high-stress environments. For example you may have to advise and create a case for prosecution following a death or serious accident at work. This may involve taking photographic evidence of the incident.
- communication skills are paramount
- technical skills, as mentioned in the qualifications section above
- you will be expected to work efficiently with other professionals but HSOs are largely responsible for building and maintaining their own inspection records. You will therefore need to be self-motivated and well organised.
- in some industries you might have to use ladders or go on scaffolding, into roof spaces or work in factories or in outdoor conditions, so an unfit person is likely to struggle in these environments
- you will need to be able to think on your feet at times to try and resolve dangerous situations