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How to become a health and safety officer

For anyone who has ever contemplated a career in health and safety, choosing the right courses and finding the right work placements can be a daunting task. Below, we list the integral steps candidates will need to take before they they begin the search for work. However, first of all, it is important for those looking to enter the world of health and safety to understand whether or not they are right for the job – and whether the job will be right for them.

The role

Health and safety officers are responsible for creating a positive health and safety culture in the workplace. They will plan, implement and review safety strategies as well as assessing risks and formulating appropriate solutions. They will need to carry out regular inspections to ensure all safety legislation is being adhered to and ensure that all relevant staff training is carried out as and when it is necessary.

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The person

Not everyone will make a good health and safety officer. Those looking to take on such a role will need to possess great tact and diplomacy, a logical mind, great problem solving skills, a good level of fitness, excellent attention to detail, a calm demeanour (with an ability to deal with pressure), and first rate communication and organisational skills. If you recognise yourself in this description, then it may be time to look at taking the first steps to becoming a health and safety officer.

Training

There are a number of training routes that individuals can take when looking to move into professional health and safety roles. Whilst HND diplomas and degrees in occupational health and safety are one option, many opt to take an IOSH (Institution of Occupational Safety and Health) course such as IOSH Managing Safely, followed by a NEBOSH (National Examination Board for Occupational Health and Safety) General Certificate qualification.

The former will lay the groundwork, giving individuals a basic understanding of health and safety principles whilst the latter is a longer and more intensive course, imparting a much broader understanding of health and safety to those hoping to follow such a career path. The NEBOSH General Certificate will usually be the minimum qualification needed for any H&S role.

Alternative paths

An alternative to this process would be to take an NVQ Level 3 in Health and Safety whilst working in a role that has direct involvement in a company’s safety operations. A work-based qualification, this route allows individuals to become qualified on the job rather than in a classroom environment.

Once NEBOSH or NVQ qualifications have been attained, individuals can reach chartered status of IOSH by undertaking the Level 5 NVQ Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety Practice.

Candidates can also take a NEBOSH Diploma, a preferred qualification for anyone looking to take on a managerial health and safety role. To achieve this status, individuals must demonstrate exceptional knowledge and commitment, and possess a track record of ongoing professional development.

Other considerations

Choosing the right course provider, such as Phoenix Health & Safety, will be extremely important for individuals to ensure the highest level of tuition and the maximum potential for flexibility. However, qualifications are not the only essential assets of those wanting to work in health and safety. By developing your personal skills in the aforementioned areas and focussing on any weakness you may have in these essential skill sets, you will have the best chance of succeeding and finding the perfect roles once you have completed your training.

You may also find that, when a health and safety role becomes available in the company you currently work for, if you show passion and possess the right attributes, your employer may be willing to pay for your training. Wherever possible en route, look for a wide range of experience in H&S roles, no matter how small, to ensure your path to becoming a health and safety officer is as smooth as possible.

 

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