Health & Safety Career Advice

How to become a Health & Safety Officer

Written by Phoenix Health & Safety
15th October 2023

As a health and safety professional, your job isn't just to enforce strict rules like wearing multiple layers of gloves, wrapping knives in bubble wrap, or banning Christmas lights in the workplace. It's about creating a safe and enjoyable work environment while minimising the risks and hazards that workers could face. A career in the industry can be a rewarding one, especially since safety professionals are more key than ever for organisations, with 36.8 million working days lost to work-related illness and injury in 2021/2022. In this blog post, we’ll take you through the skills and knowledge needed for professional safety roles such as a health and safety officer, as well as how you can go about acquiring them through NEBOSH qualifications.

What is a Health and Safety Officer?

A health and safety officer are an individual responsible for managing the safety practices of an organisation. They typically have salaries of up to £50,000 a year and are always on hand to provide safety expertise and advice. Health and safety officers often work with other supervisory members of an organisation, and also consult with employees on implementing procedures such as safe systems of work.

The daily responsibilities of a health and safety officer may also include:

  • Developing health and safety policy and procedure in line with national legislation and industry best practice

  • Making sure your organisation’s practices remain in line with legislation and government guidance

  • Conducting risk assessments and internal audits, improving safety practices where necessary

  • Maintaining a record of accidents and incidents

  • Advising fellow employees on best safety practices

  • Reporting major accidents and safety issues to the HSE

  • Providing and recommend safety training to employees so they can work safely

What other roles are there in the health and safety industry?

While many people work towards becoming a health and safety officer, there are a range of other positions in the safety industry. We’ve listed some below and their typical salaries.

  • Health and Safety Consultant (£35,000 - £45,000)

  • Health and Safety Advisor (£25,000 - £45,000)

  • Building Site Inspector (£20,000 - £50,000)

  • Head of Health and Safety (£50,000 - £65,000)

To explore a range of other roles in the Health & Safety industry take a look at the government website.

What qualifications does a Health and Safety Officer need?

To acquire the skills and knowledge needed for the role, as well as evidence of your ability to potential employers, accredited qualifications are the way to go. There is a wide range of safety courses available, and you may have already taken some in other job positions, such as IOSH Working Safely or IOSH Managing Safely. To become a health and safety officer, however, there is one stand out choice- a NEBOSH qualification.

When recruiting for health and safety positions, 93% of employers request a NEBOSH qualification, making them the way to go for individuals working towards a career in health and safety. Designed by NEBOSH, their courses are globally recognised and designed based on leading health and safety guidance. This makes them perfect for anyone working in the health and safety industry.

What is NEBOSH?

NEBOSH, the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health, is an internationally recognised health and safety organisation. It designs courses and qualifications, as globally recognised as the exam board itself, which provide a thorough understanding of a range of health and safety topics, such as the GCSE equivalent NEBOSH General Certificate, and the degree level NEBOSH Diploma. Due to their wide recognition their qualifications are the go-to for anyone pursuing a career in the health and safety industry.

What is IOSH?

IOSH, or the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, is an international membership organisation for health and safety professionals, as widely recognised as NEBOSH. While they provide a range of safety training courses for those with occupational safety responsibilities, the major role IOSH plays in the careers of health and safety professionals is offering IOSH Membership.

Becoming a member of IOSH offers a range of benefits including networking events, newsletters and post nominal letters after your name for those at higher membership levels. Although you can join as an affiliate member if you have an interest in the safety industry, many aspiring health and safety professionals aim for higher levels such as Technical membership, which requires a level 3 qualification such as the NEBOSH General Certificate and a year of relevant experience. From there they work towards Certified Membership, which requires at least 2 years of relevant experience and a degree level qualification such as the NEBOSH Diploma. Achieving these membership levels provides industry wide recognition, and the benefits offered can give you the tools you need to further your career.

Which NEBOSH Qualification should I study?

As we’ve discussed, becoming a health and safety professional requires accredited qualifications to demonstrate your knowledge and skill set. Those starting in the industry usually choose to study a NEBOSH Certificate, as these provide the foundational knowledge needed to get started in health and safety, giving you everything you need for your first professional position.

The NEBOSH General Certificate is the go-to safety qualification for anyone beginning their journey in health and safety. Across 9-days it covers the foundations of occupational health and safety, providing a strong base of knowledge for individuals to build on with industry experience. Because the Certificate covers the core aspects of occupational safety, its content applies to most workplaces, meaning that you’ll be qualified for a health and safety role in a range of industries once you’ve completed it.

Also, a 9-day course, the NEBOSH Construction Certificate, has a similar syllabus to the General Certificate, covering foundational aspects of occupational health and safety. Additionally, it has content specific to the construction industry, including elements dedicated to excavation and demolition. This gives students all the tools they need to oversee the safety practices of a construction site, making it the best starting point for you if you’re aiming for a health and safety position in the construction industry.

While there are other NEBOSH qualifications such as the NEBOSH Certificate in Fire Safety and the NEBOSH Environmental Management Certificate, these do not lead into the NEBOSH Diploma as effectively as the General and Construction Certificate. Because many health and safety professionals go on to study the Diploma as part of their career development, it’s therefore recommended you study the General or Construction Certificate if you’re aiming for a long-term career in the industry.

Beginning your Health and Safety Journey

Whether your goal is to become a health and safety officer, consultant or site inspector, beginning your health and safety career is simple with Phoenix. Book the NEBOSH General or NEBOSH Construction Certificate today and start your journey. If you have any questions about our courses or which one is best for you, speak to a member of our team today.

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