A Safety Officer is an important asset to most organisations, with benefit to management, the employee base, the reputation of the company and a cost saving appointment or role. Safety officers need accredited and specialised training and then experience within the workplace where they can become competent and effective in health and safety (H&S) and make a positive holistic contribution to the workplace and organisation.
A safety officer can also be referred to as a Health and Safety Officer, or Health and Safety Manager, or HSE Officer or Manager (the E includes environmental management which is a different legal act and requirement), but these titles all mean the same thing: Assisting in looking after the Health, Safety and Wellbeing of all the employees.
What are the responsibilities and benefits of a Safety Officer?
The responsibilities for health and safety in the workplace lie with the safety officer or H&S manager, as well as the Chief Executive Officer, or Director of the organisation. The safety officer looks after H&S on behalf of the CEO or Director, who is ultimately responsible. The safety officer job description and role would include tasks and responsibilities such as:
- Looking after the health, safety and wellbeing of the broader employee base;
- Providing management and top management with advice and guidance on H&S related matters;
- Creating a good H&S culture within the organisation and involving the employees in H&S matters as much as and wherever possible;
- Conducting thorough H&S risk assessments of the entire workplace to identify all the hazards and their risks and implement effective control measures to reduce the risk to an acceptable;
- Managing health and safety training courses of the employee base in courses such as First Aid, Firefighting, H&S Representative (employee’s ) and H&S Supervisor (management), Risk Assessment, Accident and Incident, Evacuation Planning and any other health and safety manager training requirements etc;
- Developing and implementing effective safe workplace procedures across all departments and business sectors;
- Enforcing employees responsibilities for health and safety;
- Monitoring, reviewing and improving H&S at least annually, but preferably wherever it is required;
The benefits of a safety officer or health and safety manager can be categorized into Moral, Legal and Financial benefits. The safety officer can most definitely add benefit and value in all these areas.
- Moral: Every employer has a moral obligation to look after the health safety and wellbeing of all their employees, and the safety officer can assist in ensuring this e.g. reduce workplace risk.
- Legal: By implementing H&S compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993, the organization achieves legal compliance and may not be issued with a Department of Labour inspector notice of non-compliance with the law or H&S.
- Financial: It is a proven fact that not implementing effective H&S management systems and compliance, can have as much as 10% negative impact on the organization’s bottom line / profits.
Key qualities of a safety officer / health and safety manager
The health and safety job requires an individual who has the following qualities, attributes and strengths:
- Have accredited health and safety qualifications, or skills programmes, or training and courses recognised by a SETA;
- Passionate – about their work, job description and the role of HSE;
- Good communication skills to build a good H&S culture and obtain by into H&S objectives at all levels in the organisation;
- Good attention to detail and have a low or zero tolerance for non-compliance, or taking chances.
How to become a health and safety officer and what are the benefits
There are many H&S courses available to attend, but it is important that you find one that is accredited by a SETA such as the Health and Welfare SETA (HWSETA) and that the course is logical, has good general H&S content and after assessment is straightforward to pass. Absolute Health Services has a good quality and affordable Health and Safety Officer course that is accredited by the HWSETA and focuses on training safety office skills!
There is a demand for health and safety officers and there are health and safety jobs available in South Africa. Having completed the correct health and safety officer course and obtaining the necessary knowledge and skills, should enable someone with the correct and appropriate attitude, drive and after meeting specific job requirements, find employment in health and safety.
Being a good safety officer will enable you to be a sought-after commodity and have a good career within the corporate sector. A safety officer can work in many industries, as health and safety applies to all industries and businesses so the employment opportunities are vast and numerous.
There are also career progression pathways where an employee can study and become the safety officer and then after performing well progress to a Health and Safety Manager, who reports into top management. There is also a lot of focus on health and safety after the COVID19 pandemic, so now is a good time to contact Absolute Health Services and register for their well-priced and accredited Health and Safety Officer course.