Why get into health & safety?
Where would we be without health and safety guidelines? Unsafe and unhealthy, that’s where! All areas of manufacturing and production need health and safety regulations, whether you’re making Angel Delight or building tanks.
It’s all about keeping safe in the workplace. In some manufacturing environments, you may even have to wear head protection, for as Alan Partridge once said: “Really, you should have a hat hard on…I mean a hard hat on.”
Health and safety policies and practices need to be implemented, monitored and enforced. That’s where health and safety consultants, officers and inspectors come into play!
What does health & safety encompass?
Manufacturing and production environments are some of the most dangerous workplaces out there. With lots of heavy duty machinery, vehicles, raw materials and electricity kicking around, there is a greater risk that injuries and accidents might occur.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), in the past five years in the manufacturing and production sector, “each year an average of 31 workers died in workplace accidents, there were an average of more than 4,500 reports of major injuries and about 19,500 reports of injuries that kept workers away from work for three days or more.”*
Health and safety is an incredibly important area of work. Manufacturing and production companies are legally required to implement appropriate health and safety policies and provide suitable clothing, equipment and other things that will help to keep their workers safe. Essentially, the responsibilities of health and safety professionals aim to prevent employees suffering from accidents, injuries and health problems.
You have a range of options if you’re looking to break into this line of work. You could work directly for the HSE as a health and safety inspector; you could act as a health and safety consultant and provide guidance to a range of organisations; or you could work on behalf of your local council.
Alternatively, you might be employed directly by a large organisation to keep a constant eye on their internal health and safety issues; kind of like Homer’s job at the power plant in The Simpsons, but without the laziness and constant consumption of doughnuts.
What would a heath & safety career consist of?
The HSE is a governmental agency that employs health and safety professionals, known as ‘operational inspectors’.
These guys are the dynamic detectives of the health and safety world. They inspect factories and assess and evaluate how their health and safety procedures are managed. They will often inform manufacturing companies before they turn up and conduct their inspection. However, sometimes they will rock up without any prior notice.
The HSE is an official regulatory authority, which has the power to take decisive enforcement actions if a company is flouting health and safety laws. They may even have the power to stop a factory’s production.
However, they will normally just provide a consultancy service to companies, providing advice and guidance on how they can improve their health and safety measures.
In order to avoid getting into trouble with the HSE, many larger manufacturing and production companies employ their own health and safety advisors or utilise the services of independent health and safety consultants. These guys will promote health and safety within the organisation, implement safety procedures, procure protective clothing and monitor how effective the current precautionary measures are.
These people will also record incidents, carry out their own inspections and train employees in how to work more safely. They will also stay on the ball with regards to changes in health and safety law and adapt their company’s practices in accordance with any developments.
You don’t necessarily need a degree to work in this area; however, you can now do a top-up degree in occupational health and safety! If you’re mad keen on this line of work, this is definitely something that will give you an edge over other candidates.
Reckon you could do a better job than Homer Simpson? We think so too, so why not consider a career in health and safety?