Did you know that in a big organisation, the Safety Officer is often one of the most important employees?
Big companies – especially in industries such as mining, construction, and engineering – employ Safety Officers to reduce the risk of accidents in the workplace.
One reason for this is that companies want to avoid the financial implications that result when employees are injured in the course of their work. Another reason is that they want to avoid the damage that could be sustained to their reputation if accidents frequently occurred in their workplace – or if they were found to be negligent in the case of a serious workplace accident.
What does a Safety Officer do?
A Safety Officer looks after the safety of the people in the workplace. This is a broad description of what a Safety Officer does. In practice, his or her responsibilities can include an extensive range of tasks and activities, depending on the industry. Some of these tasks and activities might include:
- Drafting, revising, and/or implementing a safety management policy
- Drawing up a safety management plan
- Staying up to date with health and safety laws and regulations
- Identifying, evaluating, and minimising safety risks in the workplace
- Training employees on health and safety issues in the workplace
- Making sure that all the necessary safety equipment is available to employees and visitors
- Making sure that all employees know how to use safety equipment correctly
- Making sure that all safety equipment is in good condition
- Responding to, investigating, and reporting on safety-related incidents
- Carrying out safety inspections
- Reporting on the effectiveness of safety management policies, plans, training sessions, and other initiatives
- Supervising junior health and safety employees
Click here to learn about the differences between a Safety Officer and a Safety Representative
Where does a Safety Officer work?
A Safety Officer can work in any type of organisation – in any industry. Typically, however, Safety Officers will be found in larger organisations, as well as in organisations that operate in high-risk industries, such as mining, construction, and engineering. In smaller organisations, the safety management functions might be incorporated into another position, such as that of HR Manager.
What is the working environment like?
The working environment differs from one industry and organisation to another. For example:
- A Safety Officer in a hospital will spend most of his or her time in the hospital building, and may be required to work shifts, instead of regular office hours.
- A Safety Officer in a business environment may spend some time in the office; some time on the factory floor; and some time on the road, travelling from one business location to another. He or she is more likely to work office hours.
- A Safety Officer in the mining industry will spend some time in the mines and some time in the office. His or her job is likely to be more dangerous than the jobs mentioned in the previous two examples.
What skills, qualifications, and experience do you need to work as a Safety Officer?
The exact skills, qualifications, and experience you need will depend on the type of organisation you want to work for, as well as on the type of industry you want to work in. There are, however, also some general skills and characteristics you will need:
Essential skills and characteristics
- Strong written and verbal communication skills
- Critical thinking and problem solving skills
- Observation skills (attention to detail)
- Sense of responsibility
- Physical ability to do the work
The qualifications you need to become a Safety Officer differ from one organisation and industry to another. The best way to make sure you study toward the right courses is to decide which industry you would like to work in, and then to contact the relevant industry body, as well as major employers in that industry, to find out what their recommendations and requirements are.
The following list will give you an idea of where to start looking for information:
|Construction||SACPCMP (South African Centre for Project Construction Managers & Plumbers)|
|To work as a Safety Officer in the construction industry, you need to be registered with the SACPCMP.|
|Mining||MQA (Mining Qualifications Authority)|
|Medical||SASOM (South African Society of Occupational Medicine)|
|General||Saiosh (South African Institute of Occupational Safety and Health)|
|Saiosh is a professional body that registers OHS practitioners in various industries, and is recognised by SAQA. They offer three professional designations, based on qualifications and experience:|
· Technical Member – TechSaiosh (NQF5 or equivalent, and 2 years’ experience)
· Graduate Member – GradSaiosh (NQF6 Diploma and 3 years’ postgrad experience)
· Chartered Member – CMSaiosh (NQF7 Degree and 5 years’ postgrad experience)
|Saiosh is the accrediting body for the SAMTRAC occupational risk management course (offered exclusively by NOSA in SA), as well as for a range of other OHS courses offered by various training providers.|
In terms of qualifications, the main requirement is that you need a relevant formal qualification before you can be appointed as a Safety Officer. In some industries, such as the construction industry, the role of Safety Officer is subject to further regulations. This is why it is important for you to do your research, and choose your industry, before you decide which course(s) to study.
If you’re interested in learning the general principles of OHS and OHS management, you can start out with the following Saiosh-accredited distance learning OHS courses at Oxbridge Academy:
- Oxbridge Academy Skills Certificate: Health and Safety
- Oxbridge Academy Skills Certificate: Health and Safety for Management
- Oxbridge Academy Skills Certificate: Health and Safety for Management – Intermediate
- Oxbridge Academy Skills Certificate: Health and Safety for Management – Advanced
To find employment as a Safety Officer, you will usually need some form of experience. How much experience – and what type of experience – you need will depend on the seniority of the position, along with factors such as the nature of the industry and the nature of the role within the organisation.
If you want to work as a Mining Safety Officer, for example, you will need experience in the mining industry, as well as practical experience in OHS.
In some cases, it may even be possible to work your way up to a Safety Officer position within a company even if you don’t have any formal OHS training or experience. Here’s an example of how this could happen:
You start out as an employee in a mining company. You do your job well, and you’re promoted to a team leader role. You’re enthusiastic about your job, and you care about the health and safety of the people around you, so you volunteer to serve on the Safety Committee as a Safety Representative.
You realise that you really enjoy being a Safety Rep, and you start looking at the career options in this line of work. At this point, you might decide to start studying OHS part-time while you are working, and you might also approach your employer to find out whether there would be an opportunity for you to move into a Safety Officer role once you’ve completed the relevant training. If you’re lucky, your employer might even offer to pay for your training!
So what are the steps you need to take to become a Safety Officer?
1 – Choose the industry you want to work in
This can be literally any industry: from business or education, to mining, health care, or construction.
2 – Gain experience in that industry
Any practical experience in your industry counts, even if it doesn’t directly involve OHS.
It will be to your advantage, though, if you work in a position where you can develop and use some of the skills mentioned earlier (such as written and verbal communication skills, problem solving skills, and critical thinking skills). These are known as transferable skills, which means that you can learn them in one working environment, and easily apply them in another.
3 – Develop your knowledge and skills in occupational health and safety (OHS) management.
You can do this by:
- Completing relevant training courses based on your industry/chosen area of specialisation.
- Job shadowing someone who works in the field of OHS.
- Starting out in a junior OHS role, or another related role (e.g. Safety Representative, Operations Assistant, Compliance Officer, etc.) to gain relevant practical experience.
4 – Start applying for Safety Officer positions.
You can do this by:
- Enquiring about opportunities that may be available within your current employer’s organisation.
- Searching for jobs online.
- Reading the job advertisements in newspapers, in industry magazines/newsletters, and on community noticeboards.
- Discovering opportunities via your professional network.
If you have any questions about starting your career as a Safety Officer:
Give our Student Advisors a call on 021 1100 200
Send an email email@example.com
I would like to studie for OHS
Hi Sanele, thanks for your comment. You can check out the OHS courses here: https://www.oxbridgeacademy.edu.za/courses/occupational-health-safety/
If you need more information, you can give our Student Advisors a call on 021 1100 200, or you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
I would like to study for OHS because I have safety certificate level,1, 2 and 3 ,and I want to further my career for getting level 4,5 Certificate to boost my career.
I am working for the municipality.
I am also in possession of a national
diploma in human resource management.
what would be a good direction for me
to become a safety officer.
I would like to study for safety officer
I want to study OHS
Hi Thembi, you can find all the information you need about the OHS courses on the following page: https://www.oxbridgeacademy.edu.za/courses/occupational-health-safety/
If you have questions about studying OHS, or if you’d like to register, you’re welcome to contact our Student Advisors on 021 1100 200, or to send an email to email@example.com
I also want to study OHS what would be a good direction for someone with a Diploma in Internal Auditing?
The best course to take would be the Health and Safety course accredited by Saiosh. The ISO courses would also be relevant for you.
If you need more info please contact our student advisors at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hello i would like to study OHS
Hi Elijah! You can find all the OHS courses on the following page: https://www.oxbridgeacademy.edu.za/courses/occupational-health-safety/
If you have any questions, you’re welcome to give our Student Advisors a call, or to send an email to email@example.com
Hello I would like to study a Safety officers course.
Hi Tito! If you want to find out more about the safety courses and how to register, you can go to the following page: https://www.oxbridgeacademy.edu.za/courses/occupational-health-safety/
If you have any questions, you’re welcome to give our Student Advisors a call on 021 1100 200, or to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi I would like to study OHS but I failed my matric,so is it possible to study and get a job without my failed matric getting in the way?.Thanks
Hi Portia, yes it is possible to study OHS without Matric. You can view the courses here – https://www.oxbridgeacademy.edu.za/courses/occupational-health-safety/
If you need any more information, you’re welcome to give our Student Advisors a call on 021 1100 200, or to send an email to email@example.com
My name is Anna I’m working at Dept of health as a food service aid and I want to study Safety Officer course
Hi i would like to enrol safety officer course so i like to know how much full course cost and how long it takes to finish that course.
Thuso Donald Gaetsiwe
Hi Thuso! We offer more than one occupational health and safety course – and each course has its own duration and fee. You can find out more about the different options that are available by going to the following page: https://www.oxbridgeacademy.edu.za/courses/occupational-health-safety/
If you’d like to speak to a Student Advisor about studying one of these courses, you’re welcome to give us a call on 021 1100 200, or to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi i would like to study safety management course…i have my N3 electrical engineering..and i have participated in the development and implementation of TOYOTA OHS…i was a safety rep
How likely will i get a job?
Hi Nqobile. Whether or not you will get a job depends on many factors, such as your skills and experience, what specific employers are looking for, how you compare to the other applicants for the jobs you apply to, and how well you perform during the application process. It’s therefore difficult for us to say how likely you are to get a job. If you’re asking this question because you want to decide whether or not to study safety management, then the best would be to contact prospective employers and people in the industry to find out what they recommend. You can also contact our Student Advisors on 021 1100 200 for further assistance.
I have done the following courses, introduction to samtrac, incident investigation level 3 , samtrac , samtrac for mining bridge course , what courses do i still need to do to complete diploma and what will it cost .
Hi Jayson, unfortunately we don’t offer diploma courses in OHS. If you’d like to find out which courses we do offer in this field, you can visit the following page: https://www.oxbridgeacademy.edu.za/courses/occupational-health-safety/
I would like and love to study OHS AND i just complete my grade 12 and i have passed with a Deploma.
Hello i would like to study safety officer
Hi, Mbedzi. Please contact one of our student support officers at email@example.com
I want to study a Safety officer course bt i’m staying at Limpopo at Northam
We offer many different OHS and safety courses and all courses are via correspondence, so living in Limpopo would not be a problem. Please contact one of our student advisors to assist you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How much to study a occupational health and safety full time and do you also offer practicals since when its a distance learning?
hy am nomvula studying National Diploma in safety management am asking if is it allowed to volunteer during holidays in order to gain experience even if ur doing a second yea
It’s great that you want to volunteer. For more info please contact one of our student advisors at email@example.com.
Hi I’m Hope Lukhele i want to study OHS,but I only have grade 10
There is OHS courses that you can take with us. Please contact one of our student advisors at firstname.lastname@example.org
I would like to study OHS on the second semester but I got 49 on my language so how long will it takes..
Many of our skills courses do not require matric. Please contact our student advisors at email@example.com to find out more.
I obtained OHS certificate from Oxbridge academy. May I consider myself as safety officer?
It would depend on the specific course you did as we have many different OHS courses on offer. Please contact one of our student advisors for more information on OHS courses and qualifications – firstname.lastname@example.org
hi am Phaphamile sodladla currently unemployed I have done Samtrac at Nosa in 2013 ,I really need someone who can help me with an in service training in order to gain experience in safety management industry ,m more much interested in construction industry .I really need help .my contact number is 072 985 3345 ,
Unfortunately we don’t do inhouse training as we are a distance learning college. You can maybe search Bizcommunity or Careers24.
Very concise and comprehensive write up Melissa. Thanks for sharing. Our company JLB http://www.jlb.com.au here in Adelaide, South Australia has really enjoyed comparing attitudes in different areas such as OHS between our two countries. Do you promote the use of safety auditor training for an officer to improve? We train Australian OHS officers which you can see at http://www.jlb.com.au/business/management-system/main/whs-180014801-lead-auditor-course/ for OHS lead auditor training. This works against the ISO 45001 safety standard. Again, thanks for sharing and would appreciate your thoughts.
I would like to start a career as a safety officer.where and how can I start?
Please contact one of our student advisors for more information- email@example.com
Is OHS a degree or Diploma?
Oxbridge Academy has several OHS qualificationsfrom certificates, online courses to short courses. These are not degrees, but many of these are accredited. Please take a look at the link provided for more information on the different courses.
What qualification this coce
View our OHS and other safety courses here: https://www.oxbridgeacademy.edu.za/courses/occupational-health-safety/
What OHS course…?
Here is a list of all our OHS courses.
Next year I will be doing Matric so I want to know which level must i get in Physical Sciences and Mathematics in order to become Safety officer
Our OHS courses don’t have matric as requirement. To become a safety officer you usually will have to be working at a place already. Here is our OHS courses [age for more information:https://www.oxbridgeacademy.edu.za/courses/occupational-health-safety/
Click on a course to see all the details like fees, subjects, requirements etc
thanks for the post really useful and good
I have my grade 11 and am looking forward to be safety officer one day can I get the chance to study at Oxbridge academy
Thanks for the blogs very interesting & keep rocking
I want to learn a safety officer
I would like to study occupational health and safety in the construction field
hi please am a marine fire/safety personnel doing my degree in O H S M and in level 300 will be completing next yr by December, which course do u advice i do at your outfit.
It’s good to know.
hello , I’m interested to study and to be a safety officer but i’m still beginner still doing college what qualifications do I need ?
nice work, keep up the good work, keep sharing
I would like to study health and safety officer course
Hi my mane is Oupa Mokuena, im already working as a OHS compliance officer in the construction field. Can i register as a OHS Officer after completing my certificate with Oxbridge Academy
To be an OHS Officer will depend on your specific qualification as well as your experience in this field.
Good luck with your studies.
thanks for the blogs , very useful
Due to recent world events I have a renewed interest in occupational health and safety and in this piece you provided some insightful points. Thanks
Graham where did you study your safety certificate