What is it like Working in Health and Safety?
- July 16, 2021
- Posted by: Jade Scammells
- Category: Health and Safety
If you’re looking for a career where you make a genuine difference in people’s lives, making a move into health and safety could be a fantastic choice!
Whether you’re deciding what to do after college or thinking about changing career, here is our guide to working in health and safety.
What is health and safety all about?
It is the responsibility of all employers to make sure that staff, visitors and customers are safe.
Several pieces of government legislation (such as the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974) set out how businesses must protect employees and members of the public from accidents and injuries. If the business doesn’t adhere to these rules, the business owner could face a fine or even a prison sentence.
The role of health and safety has also extended in recent years to make sure that staff are not only protected from physical harm, but are healthy and happy. This can range from helping staff stop smoking, to tackling stress in the workplace.
It is the responsibility of a businesses’ health and safety team to ensure everyone follows these government guidelines, and that nobody gets hurt.
What does a health and safety team do?
The role of a health and safety team varies depending on the industry. For example, a chain of restaurants will have different priorities to a construction company.
Some of the essential tasks include:
- Carrying out risk assessments and method statements
- Arranging and facilitating training for staff
- Writing, managing and updating processes and policies
- Organising safety equipment and personal protective equipment
- Auditing staff to make sure they are doing their job safely
- Providing health and safety guidance and advice to staff
- Making sure that third parties (for example, suppliers and contractors) are working within the business’s health and safety guidelines
- Investigating accidents and near misses and taking action to ensure they don’t happen again
- Working with external auditors and organisations to show compliance
How big is the typical health and safety team?
It depends on where you work and the size of the business.
Some businesses have a large on-site health and safety team, led by a health and safety manager. Other companies may just have one member of staff, or a member of staff who combines their health and safety responsibilities with another role.
Some smaller businesses may not have an in-house health and safety team and will use a consultant instead.
What is the day in the life of a health and safety manager like?
The honest answer is… there isn’t a typical day!
If you like a lot of variety in your job, a role in health and safety could be good for you. One day you could be in the office working on risk assessments and tenders; the next you could be off-site giving toolbox talks to engineers.
If you like working with different people, then health and safety is ideal. You’ll need to liaise with a range of departments including HR, Operations, Marketing and IT, as well as external businesses.
What skills do I need to work in health and safety?
There are a lot of specific skills that will help you if you want a career in health and safety. These include:
- A passion for health and safety
- A strong understanding of the law
- The ability to work under pressure
- Good time-management and multitasking skills
- Being able to stay calm in stressful situations
- The ability to train staff
- Robust reporting and presentation skills
- An eye for detail
A driving licence may be essential if you have to travel between sites.
Do I need a degree or qualification to work in health and safety?
You don’t need a degree to work in health and safety. However, a health and safety qualification is essential.
There are a wide range of different health and safety qualifications out there. We cover them in a bit more detail in our blog article: what is the best health and safety qualification to have?
The two central awarding bodies in the UK are NEBOSH (National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health) and IOSH (Institution of Occupational Safety and Health). Both bodies provide high-quality certifications that are recognised by many businesses across the UK, as well as internationally.
Here are some of the primary qualifications that will benefit your role.
NEBOSH Health and Safety Management for Construction Certificate
NEBOSH Certificate in Fire Safety
NEBOSH Diploma in Environmental Management
NEBOSH Oil and Gas Operation Safety
Experience is just as important as qualifications. It’s vital to have knowledge of how specific industries operate, and how to apply what you have learnt to particular working scenarios.
Many health and safety managers started off in an entry-level role, and worked their way up to a managerial position over time.
Why is health and safety a great career choice?
If you’re still undecided about whether health and safety is right for you, here are some of the reasons why it is a great role to work in.
- Good health and safety professionals are in high demand across all businesses. You can even work overseas with the right qualification!
- As health and safety applies to all businesses, you can switch industries with minimal training required
- You can easily become a consultant or go freelance
- It’s an exciting industry to be in as circumstances change all of the time, and there are always new things to discover
- You’re helping to protect people from illness and injury
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