Occupational safety professionals cater to workplace-related hazards and risks and endeavor for a safe and healthy workplace environment. They dive into depths to identify risks and root causes of safety hazards, help develop and implement safety protocols, influence legislation, and contribute to labor-friendly policymaking.
They also help organizations adhere to international labor protocols, obligations, and treaties and create a safe and sustainable environment. Since the ultimate objective is workers’ safety, well-being, and productivity, occupational safety experts have relevance in almost every industry.
That is why health and safety have evolved into a diversified, broader discipline and professional career path. Occupational safety experts can find work opportunities in almost every public and private workplace, including healthcare, sports, construction, mining, engineering, and countless other commercial settings.
It is a fulfilling career path. You get to help others and save them from hazards and health risks with preventive measures and awareness. The following sections explore some career paths in occupational safety for aspiring students and professionals.
Health and safety trainer
Since work consumes most of the time, the likelihood of getting hurt at workplaces also expands linearly. And when you spend a significant portion of your life in an environment that falls short of health and safety protocols, threats are a reality.
But awareness can alert you about many dangers and minimize the chances of falling prey. It is what health and safety trainers help do. They inform, educate, empower, and equip workers with relevant information so that they can look after their safety. It is an exciting, lucrative, and progressive career position if leadership, coaching, training, supervisory, and administrative roles captivate you.
But proper education and rich experience are prerequisites to get to these positions. So explore colleges with safety degrees and start your career journey today.
Workplace safety advisor
Workplace safety advisors help create safe, hygienic, and sustainable workplaces to prevent risks for workers and other visitors. For instance, hospitals deployed additional workers to inspect, monitor, and endorse social distancing, hand hygiene, face masks, vaccination, and other preventive measures in healthcare staff, patients, and other visitors during the recent COVID-19 outbreak.
Safety advisors also played a significant role in endorsing commercial settings to facilitate workers with remote work facilities to minimize social gatherings and unprotected contact with each other. These efforts yielded substantial gains in the form of minimum hospital admissions, sick leaves, and productivity losses and spared enough time for countries to contain the contagious spread.
It is also a well-paid and progressive career position, having demand in multinational organizations, small businesses, and private consultation forums.
Work-related stress, overwork, staff shortages, unsustainable work environment, inflexible working hours, and non-cooperative administration can compromise mental, physical, and emotional health and stability.
These issues are becoming commonplace everywhere. As a result, some estimates highlight that merely musculoskeletal health issues account for a productivity loss of 25% in construction workers and 7% in industrial workers. One can imagine the collective impact of other health issues in the workforce on productivity, growth, and returns
Companies also bear associated costs to accommodate the losses. But such expenditure is costlier than investing in the health and safety of their workers. Thus many organizations have well-being and fitness programs to keep their workers fit and healthy, such as no smoking at the workplace, hand hygiene, stress management, yoga classes, fitness routine, nutritious diet plans, and others.
And well-being administrators look after and manage these programs. They engage and persuade every worker to cooperate, join, and practice healthy practices for their safety and well-being.
Unhygienic workspaces and poor hygiene practices can expose workers to pathogens, chemicals, injuries, mishaps, and other risks and jeopardize their well-being. Thus companies hire hygiene specialists to help maintain the cleanliness of workplaces. Industrial hygiene specialists observe, identify, evaluate, and categorize hygiene-related occupational safety hazards.
Since safety and well-being issues can have any root cause, industrial hygienists look at a broad spectrum of physical, environmental, chemical, biological, ergonomic, and other risks. For instance, the risk of respiratory illnesses multiplies among mining workers due to hazardous gases and other chemicals.
Wearing protective respirator masks, body suits, gloves, and goggles is a vital ritual. Thus hygiene specialists scheme protocols, procedures, strategies, and practices to manage, control, or prevent potential health hazards and risks and ensure a safe and hygienic working environment depending upon the nature of threats and working conditions.
They also inform and train workers how unhealthy practices and unprotected exposure can undermine their well-being and persuade organizations to invest in specific prevention and control measures.
Health and safety practitioner
There are countless rules, regulations, protocols, practices, and precautions related to the safety and well-being of the labor force. But companies lack in implementation and practices. That is why workers get hurt, and organizations bear losses in the form of extended absenteeism, insurance disbursement, lower productivity, and shortage of workers.
Frequent incidents and irreparable damages also defame the image and credibility of concerned companies. Thus companies recruit health and safety practitioners to prevent such outcomes. Health and safety practitioners guide management, administrators, executives, and workers about health and safety laws and obligations under labor laws.
And they help an organization implement and practice standard safety protocols and practices. They also convince organizational management and decision-makers that adherence to safety practices is more cost-effective than jeopardizing the safety of their staff.
Environment protection officer
Workplace and industrial activities like land transformation, industrial waste and contaminants, radioactive chemicals, noise, and emissions pollute the environment. And damage to the environment further triggers a negative feedback loop and multiplies health hazards for workers.
The environmental protection officers examine a broad picture, trace the sources of environmental hazards, and help safeguard people with sustainable practices. They assess, inspect, legislate, and enforce environment-friendly policies to minimize environmental degradation and the impact of consequences on the general population and workers.
For instance, dumping untreated and unfiltered waste into water channels may help some industries and companies handle their waste but threaten flora and fauna in the lower ends. Nonetheless, environment protection experts can enjoy a prosperous professional career anywhere.
Both profit-based and non-profit companies seek their expertise and services to minimize negative environmental impact. And they also enjoy lucrative salaries and other benefits.
The International Labor Organization estimates that millions of deaths have work-related causes. As a result, the World Health Organization reports that work-related healthcare problems in working people account for an economic loss of 4–6% of the gross development product in many countries.
But countries can prevent such massive losses by complying with health and safety policies and regulations. That is why almost every country is a signatory to one or many international safety and well-being treaties and protocols, including the Occupational Safety and Health Convention, Occupational Health Services Convention, Hygiene (Commerce and Offices) Convention, Radiation Protection Convention, and others.
Compliance officers inform organizations about relevant protocols to minimize threats to well-being. They also help workers and organizations practice and adjust to new protocols and rules as seamlessly as possible and facilitate the adaptation and implementation processes.
Occupational safety is a lucrative and rewarding career with many potential opportunities. Aspiring individuals and expert professionals can find profitable career opportunities anywhere. But working as an occupational safety expert or advisor does not exclude health risks for aspiring professionals. They are also prone to workplace-related hazards and mishaps.
Thus ensure your well-being and safety whenever you deliver services in a professional setting and work environment.