Top skills you need to have a career in health and safety
A career in health and safety involves implementing and monitoring the strategy behind a safe working environment. Depending on your specialism, you may be working on anything from environmental issues to fire safety, to occupational health. To be able to succeed in your role, a certain amount of expertise and knowledge is required. But what exactly are the crucial skills you need for a career in health and safety?
Most people begin their career in health and safety by acquiring the necessary qualifications. Obtaining a degree-level diploma or certificate is often a requirement for employers and will provide you with the skills and know-how to take your career to the next level. Depending on the line of work you choose, some of the most relevant courses include qualifications approved by The National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. If you are specialising in a certain field, you may also want to look at industry specific courses that are relevant to your field of expertise, such as those provided by Phoenix Health and Safety.
Whether you’re working in environmental management, construction or risk management, it’s important to keep on top of industry developments by taking refresher courses. It may also be useful to gain practical experience while studying. Becoming a member of a trade union association, for example, will provide you with further insight into the industry.
An eye for detail
As well as gaining the necessary qualifications, there are certain personal attributes that will better equip you for a job in health and safety. Having a keen eye for detail will help you stand out from other candidates. You may be required to perform inspections, carry out risk assessments, outline safe operation procedures and develop improved safety strategies. To execute these tasks effectively, you will need to have a conscientious and organised approach to problem solving, as any negligence in these areas could result in accidents, injuries or ill-health. It’s also important to stay up to date with the latest health and safety regulations and legislation to ensure that staff and employers are complying with the law.
Having good oral communication skills is also highly useful, as you will be dealing with various people on a daily basis. You will need to be able to explain policies and procedures to a range of staff and provide others with advice on a variety of areas, from protective clothing to the disposal of hazardous substances. You will be liaising with employers, employees and trade unions and may also be required to give in-house training sessions on safety issues. The ability to communicate effectively in writing is also important as you may be required to record inspection findings, maintain accident reports and compile statistics on a regular basis.
The ability to think about things in a methodical and practical way is also a valued skill. When considering how risks can be reduced and how policies and procedures can be put into practice, you will need to be able to think in a logical manner. When conducting risk assessments, you will also have to predict possible hazards which will require you to draw on your past experience and understanding of relevant laws and apply this knowledge to new situations.