How To Become A Work Health & Safety Officer In Australia?

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Students want to know how to become health and safety officers (OHS) in Australia.

 

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:

 

  • To find misconduct and hazardous activities and enforce safety policies in an organization

 

  • Conduct routine inspections to ensure all workers follow safety procedures while in the workplace. They also perform safety audits to ensure the proper execution of the safety program as per compliance requirements and company policy.

 

  • To investigate injuries and accidents on the job site. Prepare and submit essential documents concerning the incident, conduct regular follow-ups, and communicate with the management about the accident.

 

  • To ensure adherence to the safety standards set forth by state agencies. This helps avoid fines and strengthens the safety culture in the organization.

 

  • Train employees about company protocols, best practices, and occupational safety laws and standards. Conduct training on safety topics to meet safety requirements in the organization.

 

 

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 

  • Critical thinking 

  • Strong decision-making skills 

  • Observation skills

  • Responsible

  • 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.

 

A WHS career as a WHS Officer/Advisor/Co-ordinator enables you to work in any industry worldwide. You can find jobs in Resources, Manufacturing, Construction, Mining, and several other sectors.

 

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.

 

  • RTOs

  • 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

  • Non-profit organisations

 

 

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:

 

  • Manufacturing industries

  • Management consultancy firms

  • Construction industries

  • Healthcare industries

  • Minerals industries

  • Banks

  • Hospitals

  • Insurance agencies

  • Government organizations

  • Service-based organizations

 

 

Areas of Specialization

 

By gaining experience and training, WHS officers can specialize in taking on the following roles:

 

 

Auditors

 

  • WHS auditors inspect the workplace of specific industries to determine whether it adheres to the established health and safety standards.

 

 

Industrial or Occupational Hygienist

 

  • They have a strong knowledge of chemistry and proficiency in using scientific equipment to control dangerous substances. 

 

  • They find issues concerning chemical and biological hazards in the workplace and inform managers and professionals about the associated health risks.

 

 

Hazardous Materials Safety Officer

 

  • Oversee and review the transference, handling, storage, usage, and disposal of dangerous goods and hazardous materials.

 

 

Occupational Health and Safety Trainer

 

  • Design, develop and conduct online and in-person occupational health and safety training to ensure a safe work environment. 

 

  • They train employees and management on implementing safety standards and practices in their workplace.

 

 

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

 

 

12. Conclusion

 

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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