Occupational Health and Safety Specialist Jobs

An occupational health and safety specialist assesses work places for safety standards in order to ensure the general safety of workers, the environment, and the public at large. Examples of an occupational health and safety specialist are a public health inspector, or an occupational safety technician.

Job Description: A Day in the Life of an Occupational Health and Safety Specialist

Most health and safety specialists work a 40-hour week, spending part of the time in an office and part of the time doing fieldwork, visiting various sites for assessment. Visiting work places to ensure that health and safety standards are being met is a big part of the job. Another important aspect of the job involves filing reports about these visits. Any potential problems must be recorded and reported so that they can be fixed.

Things that a health and safety specialist might assess include the quality of equipment used by workers, any chemical or physical hazards that may be evident in the workplace, and ways in which the workplace may be made more efficient. Health and safety specialists keep records of their work, looking for trends and patterns so that they can make future recommendations as to ways in which workplaces may better protect their employees and increase productivity. Specialists may also conduct training sessions, teaching about workplace safety.

General Requirements and Training

Most occupational health and safety specialists receive on-the-job training and are required to have no more than a high school diploma. In some cases, employers require a bachelor’s degree, preferably in an applicable field like engineering, chemistry, or biology. Other superior positions require a master’s degree. A degree increases employment opportunities and potential earnings.

While it is not a requirement to work in the field, it is possible for health and safety specialists to receive accreditation from a number of bodies, depending on their specialty.

These include the Board of Certified Safety Professionals, the Board for Engineering and Technology, and the American Board of Industrial Hygiene.

Salary, Benefits, and Opportunities for Advancement

Almost half of all workers employed in the occupational health and safety specialist field work for the government, which means good health, dental, vacation, and retirement benefits. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median earnings of occupational health and safety specialists to be $62,250 as of May 2008.

According to PayScale.com, the average salary of an occupational health and safety specialist technician is $37,318 to $58,487, increasing to $45,431 to $78,115 with twenty or more years of experience.

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