Are you a great communicator and passionate about working to keep your community safe? If yes, consider a career as a workplace health and safety officer.
Work Health and Safety Officers identify health and safety risks and implement policies to enhance the safety of workers in the workplace. They ensure that the organization remains fully compliant with safety requirements.
In this blog, you will learn about the work health and safety officer (OHS) role and the pathways to becoming one, from the educational and personal requirements to earnings and job prospects, including qualifications, jobs, courses, salary, and more.
1. Who Is An Occupational Health And Safety Officer (OHS)?
OHS Officers work with the main motive of creating a safe and healthy workplace culture. They develop, implement, and assess risk management policies and train employees in health and safety procedures.
With a sound understanding of occupational health and safety laws and regulations, they ensure compliant working conditions and operations within the organization.
2. When Do You Need Workplace Health And Safety Officers (OHS)?
An OHS officer manages workplace risks for everyone, such as workers, customers, visitors, and suppliers. Having a dedicated health and safety officer adds value to any organization.
They can assist with audits and compliance and implement new equipment and working procedures.
Here are the responsibilities of a work health and safety officer that contribute to the health and safety of a company:
3. Occupational Health And Safety Officer Job Description
Here are the typical everyday duties of an OHS officer working in an organization:
Examine and audit workplace, processes, plants, tools, substances, and personal protective equipment to ensure they meet organizational procedures and safety regulations.
Design environmental and occupational management plans
Test work sites for potential health hazards, such as explosive gas-air mixtures and toxic fumes, and execute appropriate control measures
Examine the suitability of factors that may impact employees' health or work efficiency, such as lighting, temperature, exhaust equipment, etc.
Work with engineers and related professionals to develop safer and healthier working methods, including procedures, policies, and manuals.
Promote healthy and safe working practices and methods in the workplace
Identify, record, and report accidents, injuries, hazards, and health concerns.
Help investigate accidents, study reasons, and provide remedial advice.
Conduct WHS training sessions for workers, supervisors, and management
Organize emergency procedures, firefighting mine rescues, and first aid teams
Develop and monitor OHS compliance throughout the organization
Minimize workplace risks and chemical and physical hazards in the workplace
Ensure the correct handling, use, storage, and disposal of dangerous materials
Check and replace safety equipment based on the type of work.
Conduct educational programs and safety training sessions to train employees in PPE and safe working procedures
Monitor equipment handling and maintenance and make necessary changes to procedures
Help staff who got injured while working in the workplace through the compensation and rehabilitation processes
Issue registration and licenses for hazardous operations or equipment use
Regularly report the status of occupational health and safety programs to the management.
4. Relevant Skills For OHS Advisors/Officers
The role of an OHS officer involves greater responsibility and accountability. They oversee the health and safety of each employee in the organization.
Looking at the criticality of the role, employers generally seek candidates with the following skillset:
Comfortable working in a combination of office and onsite environments
Strong written and verbal communication skills
Strong decision-making skills
Committed to continuous learning and updating knowledge
Able to do physical work on sites
Strong Leadership skills
Understand workplace health and safety legislation and regulations
Able to work independently or as a team
Good interpersonal skills
Integrity and honesty
Diplomatic and respectful
A practical approach to solving problems
Keen to serve the community
Adaptable to meet applicable workplace health and safety requirements
Respect for privacy and confidentiality
Excellent listening and research skills
5. Qualification For OHS Workers In Australia
You need a formal VET qualification in work health and safety to work as a professional certified OHS worker in Australia. Some companies require a university degree in OHS or a related scientific field.
Gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education in one or more English, mathematics, chemistry, physics, and biology
Complete one of the following OHS qualifications: Certificate III in Work Health & Safety, Certificate IV in Work Health & Safety, Diploma of Work Health & Safety or Advanced Diploma of Work Health and Safety. Alternatively, you can undertake a relevant degree course such as a Bachelor of Occupational Health & Safety or a Bachelor of Health Science.
Suppose you have completed a bachelor's degree in any discipline. You can study for a graduate diploma course like Graduate Diploma in Occupational Health & Safety.
Gain three years of full-time experience in an OHS Practitioner role. Alternatively, you can gain work experience in the industry of your interest and complete short courses via RTOs. This can qualify you to apply for an entry-level OHS job.
Renew OHS certification every year.
Complete ongoing Continued Professional Development to maintain certification
A valid driver's license is required to travel between job sites.
6. Steps To Become A Health And Safety Officer In Australia
Workplaces appoint WHS Safety Officers to offer guidance to help employers comply with WHS legislation. They manage WHS matters and create safe, healthy, and productive workplaces.
Here is the occupational health and safety career pathway to enter this role:
Step 1: Study WHS Courses
Complete a minimum qualification as a Certificate IV/Diploma/ Tertiary Qualification in Work Health and Safety. A relevant minimum industrial experience will be an added advantage.
For entry-role, employers generally look for candidates with WHS Certificate IV qualifications. Thus, aspiring WHS officers who are just starting their careers should consider completing any of the following nationally accredited WHS certification programs.
The programs help students gain relevant work experience, develop necessary job skills, and prepare for a WHS career.
Certificate III in Work Health & Safety
Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety
Several Australian training institutes offer these courses in online and in-person settings. Completing these courses allows you to work across many industries, from construction projects to mining sites to city offices. You get trained in the following aspects of the role:
Ensuring compliant workplaces with work health and safety regulations
Implement and maintain WHS management systems
Health and safety risk management
Contribute to the workplace incident response
If you already hold a Certificate IV in WHS or have recent relevant experience, consider completing a Diploma course to apply for senior roles. OHSA offers the following diploma courses to provide professional safety qualifications to qualify for a WHS Officer / Supervisor / Manager in an organization.
Diploma Of Work Health And Safety Course Brisbane
Diploma Of Work Health And Safety Online
These courses will equip you with advanced skills that include:
Investigation of WHS incidents
WHS risk management
Develop, implement, and maintain WHS management systems
Develop and use risk management tools
Manage WHS consultation and participation procedures
Step 2: Look Out For WHS Jobs
With relevant workplace health and safety qualifications, you are ready to hunt for WHS jobs. Look for entry-level work opportunities as a health and safety officer in the following organizations in Australia.
High schools that offer Cert I, II, and III courses to students
Universities that partner with a TAFE or run their RTO to provide diverse education opportunities
Construction and mining businesses
Industry bodies for OHS Officers in Australia:
7. Relevant Occupational Health And Safety Officer Courses In Australia
Recommended courses to get started in the OHS role in Australia:
Diploma of Work Health and Safety
Certificate III in Work Health & Safety
Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety
Certificate IV in Training and Assessment
Graduate Diploma in Occupational Health & Safety
Bachelor of Occupational Health & Safety
Bachelor of Health Science
8. Work Conditions For OHS Advisors And Officers In Australia
With 83% of workers employed full-time, it is clear that there are low part-time work opportunities in this profession.
Full-time workers work around 46 hours per week which is relatively high compared to the industry's average of 44 hours.
Workers usually work for standard business hours 5 days a week in corporate offices, construction sites, mining corporations, or factories. The job involves a mix of office-based and onsite work and may require travelling between several high-risk locations.
Based on the industry requirements, OHS officers may even work shifts and weekends for 24/7 supervision.
The average age of employed professionals is 44 years, with 42% of workers female working in this profession. While on the job, the officers wear personal protective equipment such as safety goggles, hearing protection, dust masks, hard hats, protective footwear, safety helmets, and high-visibility vests.
9. Where Do Occupational Health And Safety Officers Work In Australia
The rising workplace injuries and accidents have led many organizations to recruit safety officers and trainers to ensure the safety of workers in the workplace. This, in turn, leads to a growth in health and safety officer jobs in Australia.
Occupational health and safety officers majorly work in the following places:
Management consultancy firms
Areas of Specialization
By gaining experience and training, WHS officers can specialize in taking on the following roles:
Industrial or Occupational Hygienist
Hazardous Materials Safety Officer
Occupational Health and Safety Trainer
10. Job Prospects Of OHS Officers In Australia
Every day several Australian workers get injured, fall ill, or lose their lives due to human error, risky work environments, and defective equipment.
Their devastating impact on lives, families, and relationships has made workplace health and safety a massive concern in Australia and worldwide.
Companies and organizations have now started recruiting WHS officers, Safety Trainers and Assessors, Safety Representatives, and Risks and Hazards Assessors and posing fines for inadequate safety procedures. These steps will contribute to minimizing such incidences and promoting a safer workplace.
Looking at the massive job opportunity, many Australians are interested in taking workplace safety training courses to make a WHS career.
The national Job Outlook website reported a moderate growth of OHS jobs in the past five years. It will continue to rise steadily in the coming years.
While there is a steady demand for OHS Advisors and Officers in all Australian states, Western Australia offers the maximum career opportunities in this sector.
The primary industries that recruit OHS workers are construction, social assistance, health care, public administration and safety, mining, and social assistance.
11. How Much Does An Occupational Health And Safety Advisor Earn?
The salary of an OHS advisor/officer varies mainly between industries, skills, experience, area of work, and the number of hours worked. The average health and safety advisor salary in Australia is AU$81,363.
Based on Experience
Entry-level Health and Safety Advisors (< 1-year experience) earn AU$65,649
Early career Health and Safety Advisors (1 to 4 years of experience) make AU$74,299
Mid-career Health and Safety Advisors (5 to 9 years of experience) earn AU$85,988
Experienced Health and Safety Advisors (10 to 19 years of experience) earn AU$98,285
The average occupational health and safety officer salary in Australia is AU$67,976, equivalent to $1,914 per week.
Average Salary Based on Experience
Entry-level Safety Officers earn AU$64,657 per year
Early career Safety Officers make AU$66,557
Mid-career Safety Officers make AU$75,243
Experienced Safety Officers make AU$77,521
Top Paying Australian Cities For Occupational Health and Safety Officers
Brisbane Queensland: $144,300 per year
Sydney, New South Wales: $94,620 per year
Cairns Queensland: $87,373 per year
Melbourne, Victoria: $87,222 per year
Perth, Western Australia: $86,908 per year
Adelaide South Australia: $81,655 per year
Townsville, Queensland: $75,212 per year
Croydon Victoria: $74,130 per year
The job of WHS officers entitles you to a great responsibility to protect employees and the public from unsafe practices in the workplace.
You work to implement defined OHS strategies, raise awareness for potential hazards, and train people on safety procedures.
By completing an approved WHS certification, you can become a WHS officer and start creating safer workplace cultures in Australia.
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