How to Become an Occupational Health and Safety Officer

CAREER ADVICE, HEALTH   |   3 minutes  |   February 5, 2018

    The information on this blog and website is for educational purposes only, and further relates to general information about your career choice or interests.

    The UCT-certificated Occupational Health and Safety online short course is accredited by the South African Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Saiosh), the registration board of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health South Africa (IOSH SA) – the professional body for Occupational Safety and Health Professionals in South Africa. IOSH SA is further recognised by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA).

    Please note: On successful completion of the UCT-certificated Occupational Health and Safety online short course, you will be able to register as a technical member with Saiosh, but won’t be eligible for registration as an Occupational Health and Safety Officer, as SAQA has additional registration requirements.

 

An occupational health and safety officer (OHSO) is an indispensable part of any professional organisation, responsible for ensuring labour compliance and creating a safe working environment for employees.

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The daily role of an OHSO might include:1

  • Developing and implementing health and safety procedures in the workplace
  • Ensuring an organisation meets the requirements of health and safety compliance
  • Carrying out safety inspections and risk assessments

OHSOs are also responsible for supervising junior OHS staff, and conducting relevant health and safety training with other employees. If an accident occurs in the workplace, the responsibility falls to the OHSO to investigate the incident, and adjust future policies accordingly.

“Safety doesn’t happen by accident. I am here to prevent accidents and everyone’s contribution helps”

– Jasmine Haigh
OHS & FACILITIES COORDINATOR AT GETSMARTER

What are the key responsibilities of an OHSO?

If you want to be an OHSO, you need an eye for detail and a talent for problem-solving. Your role will require you to manage compliance issues across your organisation, and implement systems and strategies to avoid health and safety issues in the workplace.

Key responsibilities of an occupational health and safety officer include:

Operations management
  • Improve internal processes and systems through relevant training
  • Determine how different facility layouts will help or hinder production

Want these skills?

Facilities management
  • Analyse an organisation’s strategy to ensure alignment with facilities management best practice
  • Update facilities policies and processes to align with industry standards and legislation
  • Implement strategies for balancing maintenance and upgrades to the working environment

Want these skills?

Labour law compliance
  • Promote fair labour operations in all aspects of an organisation
  • Understand the complexities of employment legislation to ensure compliance and avoid labour disputes

Want these skills?

Operations management
  • Improve internal processes and systems through relevant training
  • Determine how different facility layouts will help or hinder production

Want these skills?

 Facilities management
  • Analyse an organisation’s strategy to ensure alignment with facilities management best practice
  • Update facilities policies and processes to align with industry standards and legislation
  • Implement strategies for balancing maintenance and upgrades to the work environment

Want these skills?

Labour law compliance
  • Promote fair labour operations in all aspects of an organisation
  • Understand the complexities of employment legislation to ensure compliance and avoid labour disputes

Want these skills?

What is the career path of an occupational health and safety officer?

The career prospects for an OHSO are incredibly diverse. With the sheer scope and complexity of national health and safety legislation, organisations are dependent on in-house specialists and external consultants to ensure their company meets compliance requirements.

Health and safety legislation is set at a government level and filters down into every single industry. As a professional in this field, businesses will rely on you for your insight and expertise, giving you the freedom to choose the industry where you will specialise.


Related content: Which job opportunities are available in health and safety?

GetSmarterOHS


What is the potential salary for an occupational health and safety officer?

Earning potential in Occupational Health and Safety will depend on your professional designation, work experience, and your ability to specialise in niche areas like construction and facilities management.

Click on a country to see what you can expect to get paid as an OHSO in either South Africa, the United Kingdom, or the United States of America:

    • RSA
      Entry-Level R186,000
      Mid-Career R374,000
      15 Years Experience R504,000
    • UK
      Entry-Level £30,000
      Mid-Career £37,300
      15 Years Experience £40,000
  • USA
    Entry-Level $38,000
    Mid-Career $45,000
    15 Years Experience $63,000

Source: payscale

What are the education and training requirements for an occupational health and safety officer?

A future in OHS is the perfect opportunity for someone who doesn’t wish to attend university, but is looking for a role that will make them indispensable in the workplace. No bachelor’s degree is required – all you need to become a fully qualified OHSO is a training course and a certificate from a relevant professional body.

  • Obtain a professional certificate

Complete an online short course that will provide you with a broad overview of the different aspects of health and safety legislation and equip you to meet compliance requirements within any organisation.

  • Obtain recognition from a professional body

With a certified qualification and some work experience under your belt, you can qualify for a membership with a professional body. Membership with a professional body like SAIOSH establishes you as a professional in your field and opens doors for career growth and increased earning potential


  • Add to your certification portfolio

With additional certificates in Labour Law and Facilities Management, you can specialise in an industry of your choice. Make yourself an indispensable source of expertise, and help companies ensure compliance across the organisation.


Related content: 5 WAYS SAIOSH WILL SUPPORT YOUR HEALTH AND SAFETY JOURNEY

GetSmarterOHS


Which skills do you need next?

Download a course prospectus to find out how one of these online short courses can help you become an OHS representative.