A health and safety adviser offers expert knowledge and skills in order to generate and promote a positive health and safety culture. This represents a key role in helping control occupational risk.
Health and safety advisers are based in a range of organisations from multinationals to small consultancies, and work in partnership with employers, employees, directors and trade unions.
They are responsible for ensuring that all safety legislation is adhered to and policies and practices are adopted. They help to plan, implement, monitor and review the protective and preventative measures that companies are required or choose to follow, and work to minimise operational losses, occupational health problems, accidents and injuries.
Typical work activities
Work activities vary, depending on the employer or employment sector. However, tasks typically involve:
- making changes to working practices that are safe and comply with legislation;
- preparing health and safety strategies and developing internal policy;
- carrying out risk assessments and considering how risks could be reduced;
- outlining safe operational procedures which identify and take account of all relevant hazards;
- carrying out regular site inspections to check policies and procedures are being properly implemented;
- leading in-house training with managers and employees about health and safety issues and risks;
- keeping records of inspections findings and producing reports that suggest improvements;
- keeping records of incidents and accidents and producing statistics for managers;
- keeping up to date with new legislation and maintaining a working knowledge of all Health and Safety Executive (HSE) legislation and any developments that affect the employer’s industry;
- attending Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) seminars and reading professional journals;
- producing management reports, newsletters and bulletins;
- ensuring the safe installation of equipment;
- managing and organising the safe disposal of hazardous substances, e.g. asbestos;
- advising on a range of specialist areas, e.g. fire regulations, hazardous substances, noise, safeguarding machinery and occupational diseases.
Salary and conditions
- New professionals earn £18,000 – £24,500 (salary data collected April 2020).
- At senior level with approximately ten years’ experience, the average salary ranges from £33,000 – £36,000. Graduates and postgraduates can earn more than those without degrees, especially if they maintain continuing professional development (CPD) (salary data collected April 2020).
- Salaries vary according to the sector you work in and companies are increasingly outsourcing their health and safety provision. A health and safety professional employed by a large industrial company can earn over £50,000, although consultants working for the same organisation may often be paid much less.
- Jobs in railways, chemicals and construction often attract salaries of over £35,000. The lower paid sectors include textiles and local government and average £26,000 – £30,000 (salary data collected April 2020).
- Other benefits may include medical insurance, bonuses, and a company car.
- This is a rapidly developing profession. As expectations grow in relation to the right to a safe environment, tighter legislative controls have been introduced relating to occupational risk. This legislation has led to an increase in opportunities for health and safety professionals.
- The work is office-based, but, depending on their employer, health and safety advisers may spend a lot of time in the factory, plant or other working premises, such as construction sites, offshore platforms, transportation systems and large-scale processing plants, sometimes in extreme weather conditions.
- Some activities may involve working at heights or in cramped conditions or in noisy, dirty or dangerous places. However, this is by no means the typical work environment.
- Protective clothing may be required when visiting workplaces.
- Flexible working around traditional office hours is to be expected, for example, in the case of an accident or for training of staff who work shifts.
- Travel during the day will be required for professionals with multi-site responsibility.
- Some opportunities exist to work overseas.
Employers and vacancy sources
Health and safety advisers are becoming more common as organisations increasingly adopt risk assessment strategies. Although traditionally associated with industrial, processing and manufacturing sites, health and safety officers may also be employed by hotel and restaurant chains, large companies with responsibility for many office workers, hospitals, companies involved in the transport network, local authority and national government organisations, universities and colleges.
The most common areas of employment for health and safety advisers are:
- local government;
- education and training;
- chemicals and allied industries;
- hospitals and clinics;
- the food, drink and tobacco industries;
- oil and natural gas;
Opportunities also exist for work as consultants specialising in supporting small organisations or giving specialist advice.
Further opportunities for qualified health and safety professionals are emerging out of tighter legislative controls and increased litigation by victims of accidents in the workplace. There will always be new challenges in occupational safety and health.
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