Health and Safety Adviser

The Job and What's Involved

As a health and safety adviser, officer or practitioner, it would be your aim to prevent accidents, injuries and health problems in the workplace. You would create health and safety policies, and make sure that employers and workers put them into practice and follow safety laws.

Depending on your employer, your work could cover areas such as fire safety, occupational health, noise, safe use of machinery and control of hazardous substances. Your key tasks could include:

  • Developing effective policies and procedures.
  • Making regular inspections and risk assessments.
  • Keeping accident records.
  • Advising on protective clothing and equipment.
  • Training employees on safety issues.
  • Investigating accidents and recommending any improvements in safety standards.
  • Writing reports.
  • Working with Health and Safety Executive inspectors and trade unions.
  • Keeping up to date with changes in the law.

In some companies, responsibility for health and safety may be part of another job role such as personnel or facilities management.

Your typical working hours would be 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, although in some industries you may work shifts or be on call in case of emergencies or accidents.

You would have an office base, but depending on the industry you work in you could also spend time in factories, building sites, offshore rigs or other environments. In some industries you may need to work outside, at heights or in cramped spaces.

Salaries can be between £20,000 and £50,000 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

To become a health and safety adviser, you can either study for health and safety qualifications whilst you are working, or you could take a full-time course before looking for work.

You may find it useful to have previous experience of risk assessment, or a background in construction, manufacturing, engineering or scientific work before moving into health and safety.

You could work as a health and safety adviser in most industries, particularly construction, oil and gas, engineering, manufacturing, chemical processing, service industries and public services like hospitals and local authorities.

Jobs may be advertised in the local and national press, trade magazines and specialist recruitment agencies.

Education and Training

If you are new to health and safety, or if health and safety is only one part of your job, you can start by taking a relevant level 3 qualification part-time or through distance learning. Qualifications include:

  • NVQ Level 3 in Occupational Health and Safety.
  • National Examinations Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH) National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety.
  • British Safety Council (BSC) Level 3 Certificate in Occupational Safety and Health.

You can then progress to more advanced qualifications as your level of responsibility grows. You will usually need a higher level of qualification approved by the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) to work as a full-time health and safety officer.

Qualifications include:

  • NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety.
  • BSC Level 6 Diploma in Occupational Safety and Health.
  • NVQ levels 4 and 5 in Occupational Health and Safety Practice.
  • Full- or part-time university degrees and postgraduate courses in occupational health and safety.

You can find a full list of accredited courses on the IOSH website. Contact course providers for exact entry requirements.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

You will develop your skills on the job and also attend short training courses run by in-company training departments, local colleges or health and safety consultants.

If you do not already have them, your training may include part-time study for NEBOSH or British Safety Council (BSC) qualifications, or working towards NVQ's in Occupational Health and Safety Practice.

You could also work towards specialist qualifications relevant to your particular job, such as:

  • NEBOSH Specialist Diploma in Environmental Management.
  • BSC Diploma in Environmental Management.
  • NEBOSH Certificate in Construction Safety.
  • NEBOSH Fire Safety and Risk Management Certificate.

You should keep your knowledge up to date throughout your career. The Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) provides a range of short professional development courses to help you with this.

It may be useful for your career development to join a professional body such as IOSH or the International Institute of Risk and Safety Management (IIRSM).

You could join IOSH as a Technician or Graduate member, depending on your qualifications and experience in health and safety.

As a Graduate member, you can work towards Chartered Membership of IOSH, by taking part in a two-year Initial Professional Development (IPD) scheme. See the IOSH website for more information.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A health and safety adviser needs:

  • Good spoken and written communication skills.
  • Good negotiation skills.
  • A tactful but assertive manner.
  • A good level of physical fitness and stamina.
  • Logical thinking and problem-solving ability.
  • Good organisational skills and attention to detail.
  • The ability to cope under pressure.
  • The ability to understand and interpret relevant laws.
  • Computer literacy.

Your Long Term Prospects

With experience, you could specialise in a particular area of health and safety, become an inspector with the Health and Safety Executive, or choose to work freelance as a consultant.

Get Further Information

National Examination Board in Occupational Safety
and Health (NEBOSH), Dominus Way,
Meridian Business Park, Leicester LE19 1QW
Tel: 0116 263 4700
Website: www.nebosh.org.uk

Institution of Occupational Health and Safety (IOSH),
The Grange, Highfield Drive, Wigston,
Leicestershire, LE18 1NN
Tel: 0116 257 3100
Website: www.iosh.co.uk

British Safety Council, National Safety Centre,
70 Chancellors Road, London W6 9RS
Tel: 020 8741 1231
Website: www.britsafe.org

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