What is an Occupational Safety and Health Career Like?



Employers and workers alike may be uncertain as to what occupational safety entails.  So what does occupational health and safety mean?  Occupational safety is concerned with all that’s involved in promoting employees’ health, safety, and overall well-being in the workplace. Professionals prepare themselves for careers in occupational health and safety with certifications or degrees.

What Does Occupational Health and Safety Mean?

The US Department of Labor establishes safety guidelines for businesses and other entities that employ others.  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the federal agency responsible for enforcing those laws.  In some cases, OSHA extends the definition of occupational health and safety to include not only employees and their colleagues, but their family members, too.  For instance, someone working in a factory may be exposed to hazardous materials, creating the potential for second-hand exposure that could affect other members of their household.

What Are Some Occupational Health and Safety Jobs?

Since every industry must comply with workplace safety standards, there are a variety of occupational health and safety jobs, both in the private and public sectors.  At the core of the average occupational safety job description is collecting and analyzing data.  Some businesses hire their own staff to manage occupational health and safety policies and programs, while others contract with an outside company to provide those services for them.  When searching through employment listings, these are some of the positions job-seekers might find, along with the corresponding occupational health and safety job description:

  • Occupational health and safety specialist
  • Occupational health and safety technician
  • Occupational health and safety officer
  • Occupational health and safety coordinator
  • Occupational health and safety advisor

What Does an Occupational Health and Safety Specialist Do?

Median annual pay (as of May 2019):  $74,100

Occupational health and safety specialists job description:  Occupational health and safety specialists work in offices, manufacturing sites, and other workplace settings.  Their job usually requires a considerable amount of travel.  What does an occupational health and safety specialist do?  These full-time employees are tasked with collecting and interpreting data on workplace conditions and procedures.   They inspect workplaces to look for problems such as slip-and-fall hazards and faulty equipment.  These professionals also evaluate work environments and procedures to measure how well they comply with OSHA guidelines.

What Does the Occupational Health and Safety Technician Job Description Look Like?

Median annual pay (as of May 2019):  $51,550

The occupational health and safety technician job description is similar to the occupational health and safety specialist job description.  Occupational health and safety technicians assist occupational health and safety specialists by observing conditions and procedures to identify workplace risks and hazards.

 What Does an Occupational Health and Safety Officer Do?

Average annual pay (as of December 15, 2020): $64,208  

The occupational safety officer job description includes working not only to identify workplace liabilities but to prevent them from happening in the first place.  Workplace safety officers look for issues such as wet floors, blocked fire exits, and shaky scaffolding.  They also collaborate with engineers and planners to ensure that workplace infrastructure is designed to keep workers safe from injury.  These officers also play a critical role in emergency preparedness, conducting safety drills, and ordering safety supplies, such as first aid kits.

What Does the Occupational Health and Safety Advisor Job Description Look Like?

Average annual pay range:  $62,482 to $75,258

 The occupational health and safety job description involves various aspects of reviewing and evaluating workplaces — procedures, policies, programs, practices, attitudes, and awareness.  Professionals in this position plan and implement safety protocols, including training.  Besides evaluating programs dedicated to employee well-being, they may observe workers on the job to assess possible risks of accidents and injuries.  Good communication skills are a plus in this profession, too, as advisers may have to write detailed reports about their findings.  Occupational health and safety advisers carry out their roles in a variety of settings, including offices, construction sites, and factories.  

What Does the Occupational Health and Safety Coordinator Job Description Look Like?

Average annual pay (as of D8ecember 20208): $58,741

The occupational health and safety coordinator job description consists of working with managers and employees to keep workers and property safe.  Responsibilities include creating detailed safety policies and procedures, investigating and reporting on workplace accidents, and coming up with plans to prevent recurrences.  Once the plan is developed, safety coordinators implement it and monitor it to ensure it’s fulfilling its purpose.  Evaluating and documenting workplace accidents are part of the coordinator’s job responsibilities, too.  Additionally, these records must be properly stored and updated.  People in this role also conduct training in accordance with OSHA guidelines.  The occupational health and safety coordinator job description usually includes periodic inspections to spot potential hazards before they result in accidents and injuries.

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