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Health and Safety Adviser

Health and safety careers

Health and Safety Adviser

Tell me about it
Health and safety advisers work with line managers, employees, safety groups and trade unions to create a positive culture of safe working practice. They are responsible for creating, maintaining and improving a safe and healthy working environment. Their duties include outlining safe operational procedures, which identify all relevant hazards, and accurately assessing risks. They then suggest workable and effective solutions.

Health and safety advisers may be involved in training managers and employees about health and safety issues and how to minimise risks. They may also carry out regular inspections to check that policies and procedures are being properly implemented and meet the requirements of the main enforcing authority, the Health and Safety Executive. They keep records of their findings and produce reports suggesting improvements.

When there is an accident, they carry out investigations, liaise with relevant authorities and produce reports and recommendations, which are then monitored. They also develop preventative and remedial programmes.

The work may involve giving advice on a range of specialist areas such as fire regulations, safeguarding machinery, construction, hazardous substances, noise, occupational health and environmental health.

Entry level
To become a health and safety adviser, you can either study for health and safety qualifications whilst you are working, or you could take a full-time course before looking for work.

You may find it useful to have previous experience of risk assessment, or a background in construction, manufacturing, engineering or scientific work before moving into health and safety.

If you are new to health and safety, or if health and safety is only one part of your job, you can start by taking a relevant qualification part-time or through distance learning.

Qualifications include:

  • NVQ Level 3 in Occupational Health and Safety
  • National Examinations Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH) National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety
  • British Safety Council (BSC) Level 3 Certificate in Occupational Safety and Health.

You can then progress to more advanced qualifications as your level of responsibility grows. You will usually need a higher level of qualification approved by the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) to work as a full-time health and safety adviser.

Qualifications include:

  • NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety
  • BSC Level 6 Diploma in Occupational Safety and Health
  • NVQ levels 4 and 5 in Occupational Health and Safety Practice
  • full- or part-time university degrees and postgraduate courses in occupational health and safety.

Making the grade
Training is mostly on-the-job, with additional short in-house or external training courses. These may be run by training departments, local colleges or health and safety consultants. IOSH also provides a programme of continuing professional development for health and safety advisers.

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 could 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, by taking part in a two-year Initial Professional Development (IPD) scheme.

Personal qualities
A high standard of written and spoken communication skills is essential, as you would have to present complex information in a straightforward way, explaining health and safety processes and procedures to a wide range of people. You would need good negotiating skills, not to mention patience and diplomacy, to convince managers of the need to implement and maintain safety standards that may compromise speed or efficiency within the organisation.

An interest in the law is needed, as is an investigative mind and the ability to understand regulations and codes of practice. You should have good IT skills, both for preparing reports and for recording and analysing statistics as the basis for spotting trends.

Looking ahead
With the right blend of business, administrative and technical skills, health and safety advisers can rise to more senior management positions. In order to develop your career, you might need to move to a larger organisation or to specialise in an area such as hazardous substances. Mandatory requirements to implement good practice in the workplace, together with increased litigation by accident victims, mean that career opportunities in health and safety are growing.

You would be most likely to work in an industrial, manufacturing or processing company. However, there are also opportunities to work in the hotel, restaurant and food industries, and for public services such as hospitals and government departments. Some health and safety advisers go on to become consultants, specialising in such areas as supporting small organisations or giving specialist advice. You could also consider training as an inspector with the Health and Safety Executive.

Alternative suggestions
You might consider training as a health and safety inspector, environmental health officer, human resources manager or trading standards officer.

Take-home pay
Salaries vary widely, ranging from £25,000 to £30,000 in local authority work or the textile industry to around £50,000 in the oil and gas sector. Jobs in railways, chemicals and construction often attract salaries of over £35,000.

Although you would be office-based, you would spend a lot of time as a health and safety adviser in the factory, plant or other working premises. In large-scale processing plants, on offshore platforms, construction sites and transportation systems, this can mean working outdoors, sometimes in extreme weather conditions. It may also involve working at heights or in cramped conditions.

A 37-hour week is usual, although you might be on standby duty in case of emergencies or accidents.

Sources of information
British Safety Council:
Institution of Occupational Safety and Health:
National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health:
International Institute of Risk and Safety Management:





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