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Most organizations have a designated EHS department manager or supervisor on payroll, but there are other safety-related positions that bring additional value to your company. Here’s what you can expect from a workplace safety officer and what they can do for your organization.
Safety officers prepare for their roles in one of two ways: on the job training or college. Safety officers often go to school to become Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and earn a degree, with a median salary of $71,780. However, some companies are willing to provide on the job training if the applicant has an associate’s degree, which usually results in a median salary of $49,960.
In either case, the role of a safety officer is specialized and its responsibilities are not to be taken lightly. There’s a lot of training and education that go into an individual’s success on the job, which should be carefully considered during the hiring process.
The safety officer is responsible for many aspects in a company’s environmental, health and safety department. Take a look at some of the core duties a safety officer tackles on a daily basis:
Safety officers are like the law enforcement of an organization. They know safety procedures and requirements and act “by the book” to ensure each one is upheld. If they see misconduct or activities that could result in an accident or penalty, they’re the first ones to speak up.
It’s hard to talk about environmental, health and safety without the words “audit” or “inspection” entering the conversation. These two components are essential to any EHS strategy, and safety officers are often leading the charge.
Safety officers conduct routine workplace safety inspections to identify potential hazards, along with observing workers to ensure they’re following safety procedures while on the job. In addition, safety officers will perform safety audits per company policy and compliance requirements to keep the safety program on track and avoid potential fines.
When an incident occurs on the job site, whether it’s a major injury or just a minor issue, it must be investigated. Safety officers handle this procedure from start to finish, including figuring out why the incident occurred and what needs to happen to prevent similar accidents in the future. In addition, the safety officer will complete and submit all necessary documents regarding the incident, conduct timely follow up, and communicate with company leaders regarding the accident.
No matter the industry you’re in, you’re responsible for maintaining compliance standards set forth by OSHA and state agencies. The safety officer stays on top of meeting compliance standards, as well as any changes to these standards over time. They fill out the required forms and reports, such as injury logs, and submit them when needed. They make sure all required OSHA posters are visible in your organization and up to date with the latest information. This helps to keep your company in compliance so you can avoid fines and strengthen your safety culture.
One of the biggest parts of the job of a safety officer is providing crucial training to employees on OSHA standards, best practices, and company protocol. Employers are required by OSHA to conduct training on safety topics, and it’s usually the safety officer who provides the training and ensures requirements are met.
Though different from EHS managers or leaders, it’s hard to ignore the benefits a designated safety officer can bring to your organization. They’re often a sounding board for managers when implementing new procedures or equipment, can help with compliance and audits, and stay on top of changes in the health and safety industry.
It’s no surprise that they can add value to your bottom line. The demand for safety officers is expected to increase in the next six years with an 8% job growth rate. Get on board now and enjoy the benefits for years to come.
Further reading: Safety Leadership in the Workplace
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