Yes, there is a difference between a health and safety advisor and a health and safety inspector and it isn’t that they both extol the dangers of hot drinks near computers. Health and safety advisors are more likely to be employed by a range of commercial and industrial companies as well as by local and national government organisations.
The reason? More organisations are adopting risk assessment strategies and having an on-site health and safety advisor is a big step forward. It’s the health and safety advisor’s role to ensure that the company is following health and safety regulations, legislation and policies and minimising occupational risk in the work place.
These hardy souls are responsible for limiting and controlling occupational hazards and reducing the number of incidents and accidents in the organisation. They carry out risk assessments, instigate changes in working practice, maintain records, carry out in-house training for employees and managers, and offer advice on issues like fire regulations, hazardous substances, and occupational diseases. In short, they are the gurus of health and safety.
Salary & benefits
Starting salaries are, on average, a healthy £22,000 to £30,000 a year.
Health and safety advisors with more experience might net between £30,000 and £38,000 per annum, whilst those at the top of the (very safe and secure) career ladder could earn over £45,000.
Most health and safety advisors will work traditional office hours. However, in the case of accidents or incidents, they might have to work overtime, or on a shift basis to train staff.
As the job involves using technical equipment and monitoring and measuring potential hazards, most employers are likely to prefer candidates with a degree in life sciences, engineering, or management.
It is also possible to take undergraduate qualifications in occupational safety. Non-graduates can enter the field but might encounter stiff competition from graduates.
Health and safety advisors might work at an operational level in an industry in order to gain experience before taking on an advisory role.
Otherwise, desirable skills for a health and safety advisor include: a high standard of communication and analytical skills, negotiation skills, patience, investigative skills, and the ability to convey complex information in a simple way to non-technical people.
Training & progression
Most health and safety advisors learn whilst on the job and continue to train throughout their career in order to keep abreast of health and safety developments and new legislation.
They might take further qualifications with the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH) and the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) to improve their career progression. Seeking membership with the IOSH is also a good way of putting yourself ahead of the game.