How to Become an Occupational Health and Safety Officer

3 minutes   |  CAREER ADVICE, HEALTH

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.

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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

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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

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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

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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?

What is the career path of a 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?

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What is the potential salary for a 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 Occupational Health and Safety Officer 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.


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

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  • 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.


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 Occupational Health and Safety Officer.