Health and safety adviser
37-40 per week
£22,000 + per year
As a health and safety adviser or officer, you would use your knowledge and skills to reduce injuries, accidents and health problems in the workplace. If you have an eye for detail and love problem solving, this could be the ideal job for you.
You will need to be able to apply your communication skills when writing reports or dealing with employers. You’ll also be expected to have a good knowledge of health and safety legislation.
Most health and safety advisers get into this role by either completing a qualification and then looking for work or studying whilst working. It is becoming more common for advisers to enter this profession with a degree level qualification.
As a health and safety adviser, officer or practitioner, it would be your aim to prevent accidents, injuries and health problems in the workplace. You would create health and safety policies, and make sure that employers and workers put them into practice and follow safety laws.
Depending on your employer, your work could cover areas such as fire safety, occupational health, noise, safe use of machinery and control of hazardous substances. Your key tasks could include:
- developing effective policies and procedures
- making regular inspections and risk assessments
- keeping accident records
- advising on protective clothing and equipment
- training employees on safety issues
- investigating accidents and recommending improvements in safety standards
- writing reports
- working with Health and Safety Executive inspectors and trade unions
- keeping up to date with changes in the law.
In some companies, responsibility for health and safety may be part of another job role such as personnel or facilities management. You could also be known as a health and safety coordinator or manager.
Working hours and conditions
Typical working hours are 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. In some industries your hours could be more irregular. You may work shifts or be on call in case of emergencies or accidents.
You would normally be based in an office, although you could also spend time in workplaces like factories or building sites, depending on the industry you work in.
You may also be required to wear protective clothing like overalls, safety glasses or ear protectors. A driving licence may be required for some jobs to travel to sites.
Starting salaries can be between £22,000 and £35,000 a year depending on your role.
With more experience and responsibility, senior health and safety advisers may earn up to £50,000 or more.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
To become a health and safety adviser, you can either study for health and safety qualifications whilst you are working, or take a training course before looking for a trainee position. The type of training you take will depend on the industry you work in.
If you are new to health and safety, or if it is only one part of your job or trade union duties, you can start by taking an introductory course that covers the basics. These are likely to include health and safety in the workplace, regulations, risk assessment and basic accident investigation. Courses are usually available on a part-time basis or by online and distance learning. Courses include:
- Level 3 Award in Health and Safety in the Workplace
- Level 3 (NVQ) Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety
- National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety.
You may need a higher level of qualification approved by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) to work as a full-time health and safety officer.
For more details about working in health and safety, see the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).
Training and development
You will develop your skills on the job and also attend training courses run by your company, local colleges and private training providers. You can progress to more advanced qualifications as your level of responsibility grows. Qualifications include:
- National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety
- Level 5 (NVQ) Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety Practice
- Level 6 Certificate/Diploma in Applied Health and Safety
- full- or part-time university degrees and postgraduate courses in occupational health and safety.
You will need to keep your knowledge up to date throughout your career. It may be useful for your career development to join a professional body such as IOSH or the International Institute of Risk and Safety Management (IIRSM).
You can join IOSH as a Technician or Graduate Member, depending on your qualifications and experience in health and safety. As a Graduate Member, you can work towards Chartered Membership of IOSH (CMIOSH), by taking part in a two-year Initial Professional Development scheme.
See the IOSH and IIRSM websites for more information about professional development.
Skills, interests and qualities
To be a health and safety adviser you should have:
- good spoken and written communication skills
- good negotiation skills
- a tactful but assertive manner
- a good level of physical fitness and stamina
- logical thinking and problem-solving ability
- good organisational skills and attention to detail
- the ability to cope under pressure
- an understanding of relevant laws
- computer literacy.
You could work as a health and safety adviser in most industries, particularly construction, oil and gas, engineering, manufacturing, chemical processing, service industries and public services like hospitals and local authorities.
Jobs may be advertised in the local and national press, trade magazines and specialist recruitment agencies.
With experience, you could specialise in a particular area of health and safety, become an inspector with the Health and Safety Executive, or choose to work freelance as a consultant.
You may find the following links useful for job vacancies and general reading:
Job market information
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