At first thoughts a career as a Health and Safety Adviser might not be the job that anybody thinks about when they are looking for a career and on the surface it may sound a little dull. However the reality is that a career in health and safety can offer much variety and even in this current climate that we find ourselves in, the profession is rapidly expanding and developing. This is partly due to the fact that legislations have changed which now put health and safety right at the forefront of any business set up, as companies are having to take responsibility for managing their occupational risk.
So what exactly are the roles and responsibilities of a health and safety adviser?
Advisers are based in a wide range of roles ranging from small consultancy firms through to multinational companies. Some people even freelance their services for hire as they are very much in demand. In a company set up, they will work with all types of people within the business from employees through to managers, directors and trade unions.
Their main job role is to ensure that health and safety guidelines are in place, and that they are being adhered to. They are there to advise companies where they are going wrong, and to implement best practice procedures. Advisers also make sure that issues surrounding health and safety are well known, through ‘in house’ training.
Typical working day
Although there are many different job roles within the health and safety sector, there are standard procedures that most health and safety advisers will carry out on a daily basis. Here is an idea of just what they do:
Carrying out risk assessments and looking at ways to manage that risk
Maintaining regular site inspections
Keeping records of findings, accidents and incidents and producing reports and statistics for company managers to analyse.
Carrying out regular training with staff and managers
Keeping up to date with newest legislations from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
Delivering timely management reports
Organising and managing the safe disposal of hazardous substances and chemicals
Attending regular H&S seminars
There are several ways that you can get into the profession, both academic and non academic, so let’s have a look at both ways.
Although it is possible to gain entry into the profession by being a non graduate, the academic route via a degree in a science or a technology based subject such as occupational safety, engineering or life science, is a way to get a foothold into the world of health and safety. After a degree or equivalent HND, it is possible to take a postgraduate course in occupational safety and health. After qualification you become a member of the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH). This is a benchmark by which employers will generally hire someone. After five years in a health and safety advisory role, a person can then apply to become a chartered fellow of the IOSH. They can then look at applying for more senior H&S roles
Non academic route
Courses in occupational health and safety are also open to those with no formal qualifications as long as they have plenty of work experience in a health and safety environment. Working within scientific and technical fields at an operational level and being able to demonstrate a good understanding of operational processes is a must.
What does the job pay?
Newly qualified professionals (5 years and under) can expect to earn somewhere between £18,000 – £24,000 per year. A senior person with over 10 years H&S experience can expect to earn somewhere around £33,000 to £36,000.
It is worth pointing out that salaries also vary according to the type of profession that you work in. For example, those who work in industries such as local government and the textile industry can expect to earn somewhere around £26,000 – £30,000. Whilst typically those who work within the construction, chemical or railway industries can expect to earn wages in excess of £35,000. Finally a senior health and safety employee who works for a large multi national company may well be looking at a salary in excess of £50,000, although junior consultants who work for the same company may be paid considerably less.
There are opportunities to work overseas particularly in the construction industry and the oil and gas industries so the chances are there if you like to travel. Although it is an office based job, a health and safety adviser isn’t tied to it all day and may be out visiting sites and doing inspections. On the whole, if you like a varied job, with great prospects, then you just might want to consider it.