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What is a safety officer and what do they do?

Are you thinking of a possible career change or looking for that right job out of college anytime soon? Does the notion of being a safety officer get your attention? As you go about learning what a safety officer is, you may well decide this is the type of work you would enjoy. But what does a safety officer do? You will come to find they have quite the list of responsibilities. From ensuring employees follow all company safety protocols to making sure no company equipment presents a potential danger to workers or customers and more, there is much to do.

Whether in a typical office setting, a warehouse, out at a worksite, and more, safety officers do not have your standard 9-to-5 desk job. So, might this be a line of work you’d find interesting and worthwhile moving forward?

Warehouse worker
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What is a safety officer?

A safety officer looks for any hazards or dangers that might exist in a company. There is growth expected in the field of safety professionals through a good part of this decade. As such, it would be worth your time to look into being a safety officer. EHS Daily Advisor noted work for safety pros is projected to grow more than 10 percent between now and 2026. As a result, you could find yourself with a very rewarding job for years to come.

In giving consideration to such a career, first, think about the kind of personality you are. Do you excel at taking responsibility? A safety officer has to be able to handle a large amount of responsibility. Without it, he or she is not all that useful to an employer when working in this field.

A safety officer must also be able to follow rules and guidelines. Those are measures set up to protect the well-being of all employees at the company the individual works at.

Making sure you follow the book, documenting any safety issues with the employer, and not turning a blind eye to safety needs is key. By following the rules and pointing out any safety issues, you will be enhancing safety of everyone within the company. If you’re interested in such a career, the best thing to do to start is with some online research.

Such research can let you know about what is generally expected of a safety officer. If you think you have such a skill set, you could be one step closer to going after such a job. Also, you may know of one or more people via family, friends, and others who’ve worked as or do now work as a safety officer. If so, tapping into their knowledge can also be beneficial to you. Once you have the desire to pursue such a job, it is important you make sure you have the qualifications. You’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree or more in areas that include courses in occupational health and safety (OHS).

Even with all the education and willingness to learn, there is still much more that will be expected of you. A personality to work well with others, having an eye for potential safety troubles, looking for long-term safety solutions and not a band-aid approach and more are all key.

Will you do what is in the best interests of the employees?

For some safety officers, the pressure can be great. That is pressure to perhaps look the other way when it comes to any company safety violations. By doing your job right from day one, the hope is you catch any potential safety hazards with your employer to lessen the odds of one or more employees suffering serious injuries or illness due to shortcuts.

Such shortcuts can often lead to employee accidents or incidents that build up over time. This is due to the employer not looking out for the best interests of his or her employees. Although you’d like to think all employers do the right thing, some left cost-cutting measures get in the way of safety needs.

For any employer, hiring a safety officer helps lessen the chances of serious injuries or illnesses befalling their companies. Not only does having a top-notch safety officer in place make financial sense for an employer, but it also shows the company is serious about protecting its most important investment, its employees.

Roofers working on roof in winter
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Unfortunately, some companies still have much work to do when it comes to looking out for the well-being of their workers. reported the lack of proper fall protection stayed the number one reported company violation in the fiscal year 2020 when it comes to workplace safety infractions.

Now, would you know what to look for at your place of employment if you worked as a safety officer?

That would be things such as the following:

  • Making sure your employer complies with any and all guidelines set forth by OHS.
  • Properly documenting any instances of injury or illness issues. This can be a wide array of things. These can be slip-and-fall hazards for starters, electrical dangers that injure employees, chemicals making one sick on the job, company parking lot hazards, and more. Be sure to keep continual records and review them often. This would be to see how the number of incidents and other related issues may change from one month to the next.
  • Providing for a safe working environment. This is for all employees so that they do not feel their well-being is in jeopardy when coming to the workplace. For example, alerting police if someone an employee knows is coming to the workplace and harassing the worker or others on the job.
  • Seeing to it that any injury and illness shortcomings at the workplace are corrected. This would be that they do not continue to pose a hazard to employees or even customers.

Take the position of safety officer seriously should you have such a job. Do what is in the best interests of each employee’s well-being. In doing so, you could have a very rewarding and satisfying career knowing your efforts protect individuals in the workplace.

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