What does a work health and safety officer do?

There’s a diverse array of tasks that work health and safety officers undertake. The broad goal of a WHSO is the create a culture that prioritises health and safety in both employees and employers. To achieve this, WHSO officers will make policies and programs that keep people safe at work, review and improve these processes, identify hazards via inspections and reviews. They might also check and control potential health and accident hazards like toxic fumes and explosives, train staff in health and safety procedures, help with firefighting or first aid in the event of an emergency, and help injured workers rehabilitate and get back to their jobs.

Tasks:

  • Create policies that keep employees safe in the workplace
  • Ensure occupational health and safety policies are observed
  • Inspect work sites for potential risks and hazards
  • Remove dangerous and toxic materials from the workplace

What skills do I need to be a work health and safety officer?

You can succeed in a career as a workplace healthy and safety officer if you are a people person who is passionate about keeping your community safe. You will need good interpersonal skills for communication and training, as well as the ability to work well within a team. These interpersonal skills will help you to resolve conflicts and promote policy adoption. You will also need to be well organised and have a solid knowledge of the relevant workplace health and safety legislation for your industry.

Skills/attributes
  • Diplomatic and respectful
  • Ability to resolve conflicts
  • Integrity and the desire to help your community
  • Practical approach to problem solving

Specialisations

There is great opportunity for WHS to move up in their chosen industry. Since the health and safety requirements differ enormously in different industries and contexts, there are many possibilities for specialisation. WHS officers can also go on to become WHS auditors that specialise in certain industries. 

Hazardous materials / dangerous goods safety officer

Many workplaces involve the handling of hazardous materials and dangerous goods. The job of hazardous materials safety officer involves monitoring, supervising and reviewing how hazardous materials and dangerous goods are handled in the workplace. This includes every stage of handling, from transport to disposal. 

Industrial hygienist / occupational hygienist

If your industry involves chemical and biological matter that is potentially dangerous, this could be the job for you. This WHS career involves a knowledge of chemistry and uses scientific equipment to identify and investigate these problems. In this role, you can specialise in the safe handling of chemical and biological hazards in the workplace

Occupational health and safety trainer

A large part of a WHS officer's duties involves training others to be safe in the work environment. With experience and qualifications, workplace health and safety officers can go on to train management and employees about how to best implement standards and practices specific to their workplace. 

Study pathways for work health and safety officers

There are lots of different ways to enter the work health and safety sector. Many courses can give you the relevant skills and knowledge to kick-start your career. 

Getting Started

Find courses that build career-ready skills in work health and safety procedures

Skill Building

Targeted study gives you the tools you need to start a career in work health and safety

Professional Development

Gain accredited qualifications that will take your WHS career further

Industry Recognition

Get access to more employment opportunities when you join a professional association

Getting a job after graduation

Put your training to good use and get the best professional head start in your work health and safety career. Emphasise your personal strengths and achievements in your resume and target your cover letter to the job description listed.

Job Prospects and Salaries

There is currently growing demand for qualified individuals in the work health and safety sector.