Job descriptions and industry overviews

Health and safety adviser: job description

21 Jun 2023, 15:38

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

An H&S adviser in a hard hat.

What does a health and safety adviser do? Graduate salaries | 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, officers or consultants) 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.

Typical duties include:

  • investigating accidents, health-related complaints and cases of ill health
  • developing policies and procedures around health and safety, and ensuring that they are implemented
  • maintaining records about health and safety
  • presenting statistics, reports and updates to colleagues, some of whom may be senior
  • carrying out risk assessments and site inspections
  • advising managers and leaders on health and safety related matters
  • providing or organising training and communications on keeping safe at work
  • ensuring that equipment is installed correctly and safely
  • identifying potential hazards
  • determining ways of reducing risks
  • liaising with suppliers such as fire safety equipment providers
  • liaising with external health and safety authorities and trade unions
  • keeping up to date with health and safety legislation.

You’re likely to be desk-based but you may need to travel to other work sites from time to time – for example, to investigate an accident or to carry out a risk assessment.

Graduate salaries

Salaries for graduate health and safety officers start at around £26,000 according to Glassdoor, a job comparison site. It’s common to receive on-the-job training and to work towards health and safety-related qualifications, both of which will help you progress and increase your salary.

Typical employers of health and safety advisers

  • Local authorities
  • Health-related organisations
  • Professional services organisations
  • Universities and other educational institutions
  • Construction firms
  • Retailers
  • Manufacturers
  • Utilities companies
  • Sports and fitness organisations.

Smaller employers may include health and safety within HR roles while in a large organisation, you could work within a larger team of health and safety experts.

With experience, you could work as a self-employed health and safety consultant.

Qualifications and training required

There are routes into this profession for school leavers and graduates.

There are many postgraduate H&S qualifications available for graduates with degrees in other subjects. Make sure that any that interest you are accredited by the ISOH – find a list of these on their website.

There are lower-level courses available too, with a range of providers. A well known one is NEBOSH, which offers courses that are recognised overseas as well as in the UK. Employers will often pay for you to complete accredited health and safety qualifications.

It’s common for school leavers and graduates to work their way up into a health and safety adviser role or to transfer from another position (such as HR or administration) or another profession (such as construction). Again, your employer may well support you with training.

School leavers can take a health and safety technician apprenticeship, which involves working in an H&S role while studying towards accredited qualifications.

Key skills for health and safety advisers

Employers will be looking for:

  • strong analytical and problem-solving skills
  • the ability to keep detailed records
  • the drive to continue to keep up to date with legislation and good practice throughout your career
  • the ability to be sensitive towards people’s health situations
  • the ability to work as part of a team
  • excellent communication skills, including the ability to work with senior colleagues and the ability to explain complex information to non experts
  • good interpersonal skills and a willingness to work with people at all levels of an organisation
  • presentation and training skills.

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