Health and safety adviser: job description

Health and safety (H&S) advisers make sure people are safe at work and offer guidance on H&S law.

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What does a health and safety adviser do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Health and safety advisers (also known as HSE – health, safety and environment – or OSH – occupational health and safety – advisers) are responsible for keeping people safe at their work sites. They develop policies and procedures to make sure people aren't harmed by their jobs, investigate and report accidents, and provide guidance to leaders on how to comply with the law. They may also take responsibility for health-related projects, such as organising talks and training for staff.

Other typical responsibilities of the job include:

  • investigating health-related complaints and cases of ill health
  • carrying out risk assessments and site inspections
  • ensuring that equipment is installed correctly and safely
  • identifying potential hazards
  • determining ways of reducing risks
  • compiling statistics and writing reports
  • running health and safety meetings and training courses for employees
  • liaising with external health and safety authorities
  • keeping up to date and ensuring compliance with current health and safety legislation.

Typical employers of health and safety advisers

Large employers, such as local authorities, health trusts, professional services organisations, universities and hospitals, are likely to employ health and safety specialists. Companies that employ people whose jobs involve physical work and risk are also likely to recruit H&S experts. Smaller employers may include health and safety within HR roles.

Vacancies are advertised online on general job sites – particularly if health and safety duties form part of HR work. Recruitment agencies also often advertise these positions.

There are also specialist magazines for the health and safety industry, and senior roles are likely to be advertised on their websites as well as in the national press.

Qualifications and training required

To become a full-time health and safety adviser, you'll need a qualification approved by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH). You can find accredited qualifications on the IOSH website. It is becoming more and more common for candidates to complete degree-level qualifications to enter this line of work, although this is not always required.

There are lower-level courses available too, with a range of providers. Employers will often pay for you to complete accredited health and safety qualifications.

Key skills for health and safety advisers

Employers seek candidates who are calm, patient and assertive, with excellent communication skills, as you'll need to explain the law to people who aren't familiar with it. Other essential qualities and skills include:

  • strong analytical and problem-solving skills
  • IT literate
  • committed to further study
  • an eye for detail
  • good interpersonal skills and a willingness to work with people at all levels of an organisation.

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