How to become a Occupational Health and Safety Officer

Occupational health and safety officers coordinate health and safety systems in an organisation. They identify hazards, assess risks to health and safety, put appropriate safety controls in place and provide advice about accident prevention and occupational health to management and employees.

Personal requirements of a Occupational Health and Safety Officer

  • Tactful and diplomatic
  • Able to work independently or as part of a team
  • Good communication and interpersonal skills
  • Discretion and respect for confidentiality and privacy
  • Integrity and honesty

Education & Training for a Occupational Health and Safety Officer

To become an occupational health and safety officer you usually have to complete a VET qualification in work health and safety. As subjects and prerequisites can vary between institutions, you should contact your chosen institution for further information. Entry to this occupation may be improved if you have a degree in occupational health and safety or health science. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics are normally required. A number of universities in Australia offer these degrees. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.

Duties & Tasks of a Occupational Health and Safety Officer

Occupational health and safety officers may perform the following tasks:

  • promote occupational health and safety within an organisation and develop safer and healthier ways of working
  • inspect workplaces and workplace equipment, such as scaffolding, to ensure they meet safety regulations and to identify hazards and risks
  • ensure that workplaces conform with organisational procedures and safety standards
  • work with engineers and other professionals to ensure the safety of worksites and work practices
  • ensure personal protective equipment (such as hearing protection, dust masks, safety glasses, footwear and safety helmets), is being used in workplaces according to regulations
  • ensure dangerous materials are correctly stored
  • identify and test work areas for potential accident and health hazards, such as toxic fumes and explosive gas-air mixtures, and implement appropriate control measures
  • ensure an organisation is aware of, and complies with, all legislation relating to its duty of care, workplace activities and the use of its plant, equipment and substances
  • record and report hazards, accidents, injuries and health issues within the workplace
  • assist with the investigation of accidents and unsafe working conditions, study possible causes and recommend remedial action
  • conduct training sessions for management, supervisors and workers on health and safety practices and legislation
  • assist with the rehabilitation of workers after accidents or injuries and make sure they experience a satisfactory return to work
  • coordinate emergency procedures, mine rescues, firefighting and first aid crews
  • communicate frequently with management to report on the status of occupational health and safety programs
  • develop occupational health and safety systems, including policies, procedures and manuals.

Employment Opportunities for a Occupational Health and Safety Officer

Traditionally, occupational health and safety officers have been employed in the manufacturing, construction, health and minerals industries. Positions are now becoming available in management consultancies and large commercial institutions, such as banks, hospitals, insurance companies, government organisations and service-based organisations. In large workplaces, personnel departments may employ a number of occupational health and safety officers. In small organisations, the personnel officer often combines the duties of occupational health and safety officer with other duties.

Specialisations:


Hazardous Materials/Dangerous Goods Safety Officer

A hazardous materials/dangerous goods safety officer supervises and reviews the transport, handling, storage and use of hazardous materials and dangerous goods.


Occupational Health and Safety Trainer

An occupational health and safety trainer develops, designs and conducts health and safety training. As part of this training they assess individual and organisational procedures. They may conduct both face-to-face and online training.


Occupational/Industrial Hygienist

An occupational/industrial hygienist identifies and investigates problems of occupational/industrial hygiene (chemical and biological hazards) in the workplace and alerts managers and professionals to possible health risks. They use scientific equipment to measure and control hazardous substances.

Additional Information
Qualifications in first aid are helpful and may be essential in some cases.
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