Health and safety specialists and technicians are responsible for analyzing, designing, and implementing policies and procedures to make a workplace safe for employees. This includes making the work environment more comfortable for employees by designing safe work spaces, ways to decrease absenteeism and injuries, how to increase employee productivity, inspecting machines to make sure they are working safely and properly, and inspecting procedures to make sure they are in compliance with state and Federal laws.
Specialists in this field work closely with employees gathering data on a specific procedure and then analyze this information to develop new ways to increase productivity, safety, and efficiency. These specialists will then present this information to management and implement new procedures as necessary.
There is continuing public demand for job safety and the outlook for these positions are good. These skilled specialists and technicians are found in many industries across the nation and about 41% of these jobs are found in the Federal, State, and local governments. Well-rounded specialists with expertise in more than one health and safety area are the most desirable candidates.
Occupational Health and Safety Specialist and Technician Job Responsibilities
Working closely with employees and management on all levels, these specialists and technicians plays a very important role within an organization. Protecting employees, the company, and the general public from workplace hazards is the primary responsibility of all specialists and technicians.
The responsibilities of these positions are varied by industry, the workplace environment, and hazards affecting employees. Analyzing workplace procedures, inspections of policies and procedures, documentation of all findings, knowledge of local and Federal laws, understanding biological hazards, understanding ergonomics, and designing and implementing new procedures are some of the key responsibilities of the health and safety specialist and technician.
The health and safety specialist and technician may work in many different settings as fieldwork, offices, mines, factories, hospitals, and travel may be required. Long and irregular hours may at times be a part of this position.
Occupational Health and Safety Specialist and Technician Training and Education Requirements
The desired health and safety specialist and technician will be able to communicate clearly with all levels of employees and management and be detail oriented. The ability to analyze procedures, identify possible problems and solutions, and communicate these findings to high levels of management as well as affected employees are keys to success in this position.
Most organizations will require a bachelors degree from an accredited college although some organizations will accept an associates degree. Experience working in this field is highly desirable. Students should accept internships whenever possible to gain experience.
Depending on which field a student is interested in, course requirements will differ. Students interested in industrial health for example, will have different courses than students interested in ergonomics. Any high school student wanting to pursue a career in this field should consult with their high school counselor as well as interested college advisors for specific courses in their prospective field.
Occupational Health and Safety Specialist and Technician Salary and Wage Information
Salary and wages will depend on several factors such as the industry, how big the company is, any credentials, what type of degree the employee has, and employee experience to name a few. Other factors may be involved.
According to CollegeGrad.com, the median salary for an Environment Health and Safety Engineer at Level I is currently: $58,203 in Denver, Colorado; $62,944 in Boston, Massachusetts; and $52,057 in Wichita, Kansas.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Occupational Health and Safety Specialist and Technician Certifications
Many employers encourage certification and some employers will pay for certification, however, in most cases if a specialist wants to be certified it is a voluntary effort. Keep in mind that once certified, continued education is required for recertification.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are several organizations that offer certifications including the American Board of Industrial Hygiene, the Board of Certified Safety Professionals, the American Indoor Quality Council, and the American Board of Health Physicists.
The process of becoming certified varies, however, most certifications have specific education requirements as well as job experience. Once these requirements are met, the specialist will be eligible to take the certification exam. For information on the specific certificates and their requirements, contact the organization that gives the certification exam.
Occupational Health and Safety Specialist and Technician Professional Associations
There are several national professional associations listed on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website at www.bls.org that have information available on careers and memberships. These organizations are a good resource for health and safety specialists and technicians to belong to. Many of these resources will list colleges and universities offering degrees in their specific field.