How to become a Health and Safety Expert
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How to become a Health and Safety Expert

The role of a health and safety expert (or health and safety adviser) is one for which there is increasing demand in the UK job market. Health and safety experts have an important role to play in businesses worldwide, and this is a solid career choice for anyone with a strong sense of duty and excellent attention to detail.

Although a career as a health and safety expert might be challenging at times, requiring you to be diplomatic when dealing with high pressure working environments, it can also be a highly rewarding career choice. If you are interested in creating and implementing important workplace policies, perhaps a job as a health and safety expert would be a good fit for you.

If you are looking for more information about health and safety as a career path you are in the right place. In this article, we aim to give you more details to enable you to decide whether becoming a health and safety expert is the right role for you. We will look at an overview of the day-to-day tasks of a health and safety professional and examine the best ways to start your career in occupational health and safety.

Common tasks and day-to-day duties of health and safety experts include:

  • Carrying out risk assessments for all areas of the business.
  • Outlining operational safety procedures that identify potential risks.
  • Undertaking regular inspections to ensure that health and safety policies are being adhered to.
  • Recording workplace incidents and accidents and producing statistics as required.
  • Managing or removing hazardous substances, e.g. asbestos.
  • Advising on fire safety, noise, machinery, and occupational health conditions.

In terms of salary for health and safety experts, this depends greatly on your level of experience and where you are located in the UK. The average starting salary of a health and safety professional in the UK is £24,000 to £32,000 per annum. However, very experienced health and safety experts can earn as much as £70,000 to £80,000.

As a health and safety professional your ability to command a high salary will increase with the experience you have. The industry in which you work will also have a bearing on your salary bracket.

Do you have the skills needed to become a health and safety expert?

Arguably, health and safety expert’s number one quality will be strong attention to detail in order to identify and mitigate potential threats to occupational health. Other key skills and qualities include:

  • First-class communication skills and the ability to explain complex procedures to colleagues in a simple manner.
  • Good negotiation skills when liaising with senior managers.
  • A diplomatic and personable manner.
  • Meticulous analytical and problem-solving skills.
  • Good IT skills.
  • A flexible attitude to working hours.
  • A car and full driving licence may be highly advantageous if travel is required.

What do career prospects look like for health and safety experts?

There is currently a demand for health and safety experts in a variety of firms, from multinational corporations to small businesses. While some health and safety experts are generalists, a significant number will become specialised in a particular area, for example:

  • Engineering firms
  • Fire and rescue services
  • Hospitals and clinics
  • Industrial processing plants

Many health and safety experts go on to become self-employed or work on a consultancy basis. It is advisable for novice health and safety practitioners to take on work in a range of environments in order to build up a decent amount of experience before specialising in a particular field. Some health and safety experts move into academia after a career of providing and implementing workplace health and safety policies.

How do I become a health and safety expert?

Occupational health is a popular job role, and there is a demand for qualified health and safety experts across the UK. Often, employees move into health and safety as a second career after taking on health and safety roles within their primary career role. Experience in the following sectors may be advantageous when looking to get into a health and safety role:

  • Manufacturing
  • Construction
  • Engineering

Entry into a health and safety role without a degree is definitely possible, provided you achieve the necessary qualifications in health and safety and gain practical work experience. There is a wide variety of health and safety courses available to study, including IOSH and NEBOSH accredited courses which you can study flexibly online through e-Careers.

If you want to make sure that occupational health is the right career path for you, you can begin with an introductory course, such as an IOSH Working Safely, or an IOSH Managing Safely, alternatively you can study the NEBOSH General Certificate in Occupation Health and Safety, which will give you an extremely good grounding in the subject.

Entry requirements

In terms of how to become a health and safety expert, there are many routes to this career. However, for the majority of employers, a health and safety certificate from an organisation like NEBOSH along with solid workplace experience are the most important requirements.

Thank you for reading our guide on how to become a health and safety expert. If you decide that health and safety is a good career fit, we’d like to wish you the best of luck on your journey!

Accreditation

IOSH
NEBOSH
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