Thousands of work-related accidents are reported each year, and preventing accidents at work should be a key focus area for any business. Besides reducing costs, effective health and safety management promotes business efficiency. In South Africa, health and safety workers are responsible for monitoring compliance with health and safety laws in the workplace.

Health and safety workers often give organisations advice on how to improve their workplace processes, and help them to implement their safety management systems more effectively. Their overall role is to make sure that there is nothing that will (or potentially could) jeopardise the health of any employee.

So what is it really like to work in OHS?

We spoke to Tamsin Coetzee, a Health and Occupational Safety Officer for a multi-national mining company, about the activities that form part of her average working day. Here’s what she had to say:

An average day consists of meeting with senior management of the company (including the MD), conducting routine inspections, dealing with complaints from employees, compiling reports, and putting together health and safety programmes. I advise my company on any changes to the health and safety laws and also on how to comply with legislation. It’s my responsibility to keep record of compliance documents.

I’m currently busy developing a health and safety programme to help employees understand the potential hazards they are exposed to on a daily basis. Being in the mining industry, it’s imperative that employees understand the dangers associated with their jobs, and that they take extra care when working. Due to the size of our company, I am required to travel to the different regions, as I have to keep the local management team up to date with health and safety requirements. I travel to the regions once per month.

If, like Tamsin, you want to work in the field of occupational health and safety, you will not only need the relevant technical knowledge and skills, but you will also need excellent communication skills, as you will be dealing with people from all walks of life. You will also need to be organised and diligent, and being a people’s person will help.

Want to find out more?

Click on the button below to find out more about OHS, and how you can work towards a career in this field:

Click here to find out more about a career in OHS