This article contains a stepwise guide on How to Become a Safety Officer. It also includes their responsibilities and skills requirement.
In every organisation or field, the safety of staff is very important and should be treated with caution because the productivity of an employee is dependent on how safe and conducive a work environment is. So to say that, if a workplace poses to be a threat and dangerous to the health and safety of a worker, there is no way a worker will give his/ her best to the job.
It is therefore the responsibility of a safety officer to endeavour that workers are safe and free from danger.
Thus, Safety Officer, otherwise known as an Occupational Health and Safety Officer, is a major professional in the work environment. They provide safety management, monitoring, advice and reporting in the workplace, as well as engage staff in programs that ensure safe practice in the workplace.
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.
In other words, a safety officer is saddled with the responsibility of making sure the work environment is free from hazards and safe for workers. This career involves regular traveling to inspect places like factories, hospitals, offices, schools, construction sites, etc.
Due to how sensitive the role is, not anybody can become a safety officer without proper training and certification. This is why renowned organizations seek experts in the field to handle this role. If this is your dream career but not knowing how to go about it has been the challenge, do not worry, this article contains information on how to become a safety officer. But before then, do you know the responsibilities and skills of a safety officer? Keep reading!
Responsibilities of a Safety Officer:
It is known that the major role of a Safety officer is to manage the work environment and ensure it’s safe and conducive for workers but apart from that, an Occupational officer is responsible for the following:
- Practice safe working techniques
- Compile safety programs.
- Maintain compliance with all safety regulations.
- Identify hazardous waste and dispose of it correctly.
- Implement and maintain health and safety standards.
- Establish a cordial and professional relationship with employees.
- Conduct regular staff meetings to share best practice techniques.
- Standardize health and safety in order to remain consistent.
- Compile and maintain relevant registers to ensure compliance.
- Document staff information, minutes of meetings, and reports compiled for management.
Knowing the responsibilities of a Safety officer is basically an insight to help you know what the career role entails. So, what does it take to become a Safety officer
Skills Required Of a Safety Officer
As a safety officer, there are certain skills you’re required to possess in order to discharge your duties well. They include;
- In depth knowledge of legislation (e.g. OSHA/EPA) and procedures
- Able to work independently or as part of a team
- Tactful and diplomatic
- Good communication and interpersonal skills
- Discretion and respect for confidentiality and privacy
- Excellent IT skills
- Integrity and honesty
- Knowledge of potentially hazardous materials or practices
- Organisational skills
- Problem solving ability
- Proven experience as safety officer
- Experienced in writing reports and policies for health and safety
- Conversant with conducting data analysis and reporting statistics
- Diligent with excellent attention to detail
- Physical stamina
- BSc/BA in safety management, engineering or relevant field is preferred
- Certificate in occupational health and safety
How to Become A Safety Officer
There are different processes involved before one can become a Safety Officer. The requirements are below:
1. EARN A BACHELOR’S DEGREE
Some Safety officer roles do not call for a postsecondary education. However, getting a bachelor’s degree or an associate degree is one important step to stand out as some employers seek applicants who hold certificates or associate’s degrees. A bachelor’s degree program in occupational safety may include courses in, industrial hygiene, hazardous materials, OSHA standards and ergonomics. Engineering, physics, chemistry or other related subjects are other majors that may qualify one for a career in occupational safety.
To further succeed as an aspiring safety officer, , serve as an intern during the undergraduate. This is advisable because work experience is an important factor that employers take into consideration when selecting a safety officer.
2. CONSIDER EARNING A GRADUATE DEGREE
Having a bachelor’s degree is sufficient for most safety jobs but there are specific positions that require a master’s degree. Some of such positions include a safety officer who specializes in health.
3. GAIN SAFETY-STANDARDS WORK EXPERIENCE
It is only natural for employers to prefer applicants who have about five years of experience and above in relation to safety inspection which ought to have provided the applicant with a solid understanding of OSHA standards. To gain experience, one possible way aspiring officers can gain this experience is to volunteer for businesses or organizations.
4. TRAIN ON THE JOB AND SPECIALIZE
Having a degree or even a graduate degree is not enough for this role. Being that a safety officer can apply for employment in any place such as Federal and state government agencies, factories as well as health Institution, once employed, you will be made to go through on-the-job training. Such training usually focuses on the specific types of work settings officers will evaluate. For example, a safety officer specializing in construction will undergo training construction and safety regulations.
5. CONSIDER SAFETY OFFICER CERTIFICATION
Most times certification is not mandatory, but oftentimes employers prefer applicants who have professional credentials. This is because certification shows a devotion to the field and may lead to career advancement. The Board of Certified Safety Professionals is one organization that offers certifications for these workers.
Such certifications include Certified Safety Professional, Construction Health and Safety Technician credentials, etc. Training and education requirements vary depending on the specific certification program, though all candidates must pass an exam and maintain certification regularly by earning continuing education credits.
6. REGISTRATION AS A HEALTH AND SAFETY OFFICER
Having acquired the needed degrees, it is wise to get registered. Registering with a recognized body is one very important process. This is because it makes you stand out from others who are not registered.
7. SAFETY TRAINING COURSES
Enrolling for a safety officer qualifying courses is not much of a problem. It has been made very flexible and easy to accommodate different categories of people.
I have always desired to get certified in any safety related field but the opportunity never came until I went for the compulsory one year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). It was during this period I registered for a course in Health, Safety and Environment. In less than 7 months I got the certification after successfully passing the examination. I can secure a job with the certification but there is a limit to the job roles I can perform.
Why did I share my personal experience? A lot of people have been misinformed about this and as a result, many are discouraged to try with the ideology that getting certified is rigorous. Bear in mind that some courses offered are short-term or one time with different purposes while others set students on a career path to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
While some students may be interested in a one-time certification course, most students in this field will require at least two years of schooling.
This field of study is broad and covers an array of subjects but the main focus is on workplace safety. Students learn about basic safety practices, industrial hygiene, hazardous materials, worker’s compensation, stress management, air and water quality regulations, and strategies to ensure workplace well-being. Many courses available can help students find careers in the public and private sector.
Some of the courses offered include:
- HSE Awareness (Induction)
- Manual Handling
- Basic Fire Extinguisher
- Display Screen Assessments – Ergonomics
- Noise / Hearing Protection
- Respiratory Protection
- Waste Management
- Environmental Health & Safety Risk Management
- Fire Warden
- Riggers and Banks man Awareness
- Welding Safety
- Sewage Safety – Workers
- Sewage Safety – Managers
- Hazard Analysis at Work
- Safety at Home
- Safety for Supervisors
- Incident Investigation
- Electrical Safety
- Electrical Safety Rules
- Nitrogen Awareness
- Environment Awareness
- Chemical Hazard Awareness
- Risk Assessment
- Construction Safety
- Office Safety
- Process Safety Management
- Stress Management
First Aid courses including;
- Heart saver First Aid CPR & AED
- Standard First Aid CPR & AED – National Safety Council
- Advanced First Aid
Courses and qualifications are from:
- British Safety Council
- City & Guilds
Opportunities as a Certified Safety Officer
Safety and Environmental issues are increasing by the day. This is why your knowledge as a certified safety officer can never lie waste even if you are yet to secure employment in a big organization. Even if a student chooses a path outside this field of study, the knowledge gained in these courses can be applied to most areas of life.
Students taking occupational safety and health courses often have a wide range of career options. Whether in an office or industrial setting, workplace safety is an important aspect of any organization, business or public. Many students can find careers as an occupational safety and health technician or manager. Others might focus their talents in a specific area such as an environmental protection or industrial hygiene technician.
Work as a safety officer includes office settings and field work. Due to most officers working in government sectors, job security is guaranteed to a reasonable extent with this career. Officers may be exposed to a range of risks but with the use of personal protective equipment, the risk is minimized. Safety officers primarily work full-time on weekdays and on rare occasions some nights and weekends may be required in an emergency case.
The rate of environmental hazards and workplace accidents are quite alarming as the day goes by and as such, having knowledge of safety measures shouldn’t be a thing for only safety officers. For further clarification, certification or a degree in occupational safety and health can be earned from colleges worldwide either online and or offline. Moreso, the costs associated with the course varies based on the school and desired level of studies
To ensure success and continuous growth as a Safety Officer, you must stay updated with the latest trends in health and safety and consistently implement these improved practices in the workplace.
With experience and sometimes further training, occupational health and safety officers have a higher chance of career advancement as some may become auditors who inspect a workplace’s level of compliance with health and safety standards.
However, as one who intends to become a safety officer, the information in this article should be a guide.
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Chioma Oparah is a very talented and passionate freelance writer that has dedicated her skill in helping young minds to self-discovery. She has 4 years of experience in the field of content writing.