To put it simply, Occupational Health and Safety specialists are those people keeping worksites and workers safe. How? By making sure everyone is following the rules and minimizing risks. Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that… Let’s break it down.
What do Occupational Health and Safety specialists do?
Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) specialists identify, control, and prevent health and safety hazards in the workplace by promoting safer and healthier work environments. On a typical day, an OHS specialist may concentrate on equipment, ventilation, or lighting conditions and materials in the workplace in order to determine their effect (if any) on employee performance, comfort, health, and safety.
OHS specialists may, for example, develop and implement safety and training programs that reiterate best response tactics and instructions for using safety equipment in the event of an emergency. They may also conduct audits related to safety regulation adherence, or, they may recommend ergonomically designed equipment or furniture.
But it’s important to keep in mind that an OHS specialist’s job doesn’t stop at workers. They must also seek to protect the workplace, environment, and the public. This implies collecting and analyzing data, for example, by conducting physical, chemical, radiological, and biological inspections. If any hazardous conditions or equipment are found, it’s common for OHS specialists to collaborate with engineers and physicians to mitigate the problem.
What are the main responsibilities of OHS specialists?
OHS specialists can expect their role to include the following responsibilities:
- Identify and document workplace hazards
- Collect and analyze health and safety data
- Examine procedures and equipment against safety standards and regulations
- Prepare written reports on health and safety findings
- Investigate health and safety incidents to determine how to prevent them in the future
- Design and implement safety programs to minimize risks in the workplace
- Lead training programs related to emergency procedures and safety equipment
What type of work conditions can OHS specialists expect?
OHS specialists work in a variety of settings including offices, warehouses, labs, or construction sites. They can expect both short- and long-term projects and may choose to keep flexible hours as a temporary staff or join a team as a full-time employee. OHS specialists should expect some days to be long and possible breaks between jobs. Median annual salaries range from $50,000-$70,000 depending on certifications and experience. And as safety standards and regulations are ever-changing, the job outlook is strong.
How do you start a career in OHS?
There are lots of entry points into a career in OHS including on-the-job training, specialized courses, certificates, or post-secondary education. Specializations include Certified Safety Professional, Occupational Health and Safety Technologist, or Construction Health and Safety Technician. These professional certifications typically require a mix of both training and experience.
A great place to start is by taking a course at Universal Health and Safety. With courses varying from Occupational First Aid to Work Site Safety, Fall Protection, and Mobile Equipment Training, you’ll soon discover the career in OHS that’s right for you and a place to keep up with industry standards as you go.
Why is OHS work important?
OHS specialists are vital for the protection of workers, employers, the public, and the environment. Their goals include increasing worker productivity and reducing workplace incidents (thereby lowering insurance premiums and saving money on workers’ compensation or government fines). But the effects of their work often extend beyond the workplace to promoting safer and healthier habits overall.