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How to become a work health and safety officer

By Ashleigh Ho


Are you looking for a job that ensures people’s safety? A career as a work health and safety officer could be for you. The role of a WHS officer is to use their due diligence to minimise risk in the workplace and help create a safe environment.

We’ve looked at what exactly a work health and safety officer does as well as how you can kickstart your career to become one.

What does a work health and safety officer do?

Safety is a high priority in all workplaces. A WHS officer is responsible for a diverse variety of tasks to ensure the safety of others. The main aim of the job is to put procedures in place to minimise danger and put the health and safety of workers and employers first.

From there, the WHS officer will continually review these practices through inspections. Another part of a WHS officer’s role is to train staff on health and safety practices put in place, provide assistance such as first aid in the case of an emergency, or help with the rehabilitation of workers so they can re-enter their jobs safely and comfortably.
 
There are also many specialisations that WHS officers can choose from should they wish to move up the career ladder. These specialisations include:

 

  • Hazardous Materials Officer: Many workplaces often deal with dangerous goods or hazardous materials. In this role, you will oversee how these materials are handled as well as provide advice to ensure the safest practices.
  • Industrial Hygienist: If you think of yourself as a science person, this role could suit you. This job involves having a sound knowledge of chemistry as well as scientific equipment to ensure the safe handling of these in the workplace.
  • Occupational, Health and Safety Trainer: This is a great role if you enjoy teaching others. You will get to take your experience to the classroom and train up management and employees about the best health and safety practices.

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

To have a successful career as a work health and safety officer, you will need to be skilled in a variety of areas including:
 

  • Leadership: As a WHS officer, you will need to promote safe work practices to the entire workplace. Leadership skills are essential to ensure that your guidance is being followed by all workers and managers.
  • Communication: You will to be creating safe work policies, so it’s vital that your written and verbal communication skills are strong. This is to ensure that people understand and follow the policies that you have implemented.
  •  Detail Oriented: As you will be observing the way people are working and how equipment is handled, you’ll need a keen eye for detail. Your observations will help you determine what is best to minimise danger in the workplace.
  •  Teamwork: Having strong teamwork skills will help you build important relationships with other employees in the workplace. You’ll also be collaborating with staff to discover any issues about safety as well as get advice on the best way forward in implementing policies.
  •  Industry knowledge: The role of a WHS officer involves having a good knowledge of specific procedures including legal practices. You can develop these skills by completing a BSB41419 -  Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety where you will learn how to assist with WHS procedures, respond to critical incidents, undertake workplace monitoring and comply with WHS laws.

How to become a work health and safety officer

Here are some steps you can take to become a work health and safety officer:
 

  1. Get studying: At Upskilled, we offer the perfect first step to start your career as a work health and safety officer. By completing our BSB41419 -  Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety, you can gain the foundational knowledge needed to succeed in your career as well as obtain a nationally recognised qualification. 
  2. Explore other qualifications you may need for the role: Some employers prefer their WHS officer have certain certifications such as a Construction White Card or First Aid Certificate.
  3. Get some experience: You can gain some practical experience by entering the workforce while you’re still studying. By completing an internship or secondment, you’ll get the inside knowledge of what really happens in the workplace, make some connections, and potentially land a fulltime job.
  4. Get certified by the Australian Institute of Health and Safety (AIHS): Once you gain the appropriate qualifications and some work experience, you can apply for certification with the AIHS. This can help improve your employability prospects and make connections within the industry.
 
Kickstart your career as a work health and safety officer today. At Upskilled, we can help get you started in the role with our BSB41419 - Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety.
 
Head over to Upskilled today to find out more about the course or to discover a qualification that’s right for you.
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