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What is a Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Professional

What is a Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Professional

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/ What is a Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Professional

What is Occupational Health & Safety?

Creating a safe work environment is critical to the success an efficient business, and is one of the best ways to retain staff and maximise productivity. Business owners have responsibilities regarding health and safety in the workplace and many companies are now enlisting the help of occupational health and safety (OHS) professionals.

A Certificate IV in Allied Health Assistance (Occupational Therapy) is an ideal course to pursue to start a career in this industry. 

Job Outlook Average Salary Work Hours Age Groups
Education Level Skills Trends Courses Interview with a Pro


OH&S Professionals Job Outlook

The graph shows historical and projected (to 2019) employment levels (thousands) for this occupation.

Source: *Job Outlook Government website. ABS Labour Force Survey, DEEWR trend data to November 2014 and DEEWR projections to 2019. Estimates have been rounded.

Employment for Occupational & Environmental Health Professionals to 2018-19 is expected to grow very strongly. Employment in this large occupation (30 000 in November 2014) rose very strongly in the past five years and in the long-term (ten years).

The mix of industries employing Occupational & Environmental Health Professionals is very favourable for employment growth prospects.

OH&S Salaries

Source: *Job Outlook Government website. ABS EEBTUM survey August 2014 cat. no. 6310.0. Estimates have been rounded and consequently some discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals.

Note: These figures are indicative and cannot be used to determine a particular wage rate. lists the wage for an Occupational Health or Safety Specialist Technician as being between an average of $72 000 to a maximum salary of $110 000.;

Over the five years to November 2017, the number of job openings for Occupational & Environmental Health Professionals is expected to be average (between 10,001 and 25,000). Job openings can arise from employment growth and people leaving the occupation.

OH&S Weekly Work Hours

The graph shows the average weekly hours (by gender and full-time and part-time) worked for this occupation, compared with all occupations. 

Occupational & Environmental Health Professionals have an above average proportion of full-time jobs (86.4 per cent). For Occupational & Environmental Health Professionals working full-time, average weekly hours are 42.3 (compared to 41.3 for all occupations) and earnings are high - in the ninth decile. Unemployment for Occupational & Environmental Health Professionals is below average.

Source: *Job Outlook Government website. ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2014.

OH&S Age Profile

OH&S Professionals have a large proportion of workers amongst people in the 25-34 age bracket, making it a vibrant and dynamic work environment.

 Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2014.

OH&S Professionals Education Levels

Source: *Job Outlook Government website. ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2014.

OHS Skills Trends

New Legislation

On 1 January 2012, the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 took effect and replaced older legislation. In addition, new Codes of Practice replaced the Occupational Health and Safety Code of Practice 2008, although some of the old codes were preserved. Many offices and other workplaces are now employing full and part time staff in OH&S roles as this is such an important area of a business.

Interview with an OHS Professional

Justin Strharsky

Managing Director @ Synaptor

In two sentences, tell us what a bit about your role in OHS.

At Synaptor we're building the next generation of tools for keeping people safe in hazardous workplaces. I want to ensure that our tools are easy to use and deliver real improvements in the way OH&S is managed. To do this, I talk with lots of people working in oil & gas, construction, and mining companies. I try to understand the obstacles they face in getting their work done and the drawbacks of their existing tools. For example, why do people hate filling out paper cards about hazards they observe in the workplace? How does a company know if a work crew has all of the necessary training?

What does a person who works in OHS do on a day to day basis?

What I do on a day-to-day basis changes constantly. Every day is a new challenge - that's something I like about what I do. Individuals in OHS roles, such as OHS Advisors, typically report to a Site Manager or OHS Manager. A good deal of their time is spent conducting site inspections, performing risk assessments, and providing advice to managers about safety considerations on site. They frequently assist with delivering site inductions to familiarise new employees and visitors with the hazards on a site, and may deliver other training as well. They may help investigate incidents and participate in emergency planning and response.

More generally, individuals working in OHS are responsible for maintaining compliance with OHS legislation and ensuring that their coworkers are not injured on the job.

What are the best parts of the job?

One of the best things about my job is knowing that I'm working on something that matters. The tools we're building can help prevent people being injured or killed on the job. That gives me great motivation.

What skills/attributes do potential OHS employees need to have?

In some workplaces, people are sceptical about safety because they are required to complete lots of paperwork without a good explanation why, and without seeing any results.

In order to influence others positively, I think OH&S practitioners need honesty, excellent communication skills, and real compassion for other people.

What’re your favourite things about working in the OHS Industry?

I am fortunate to work with some talented and dedicated people who are passionate about what they do. I've learned from them that OHS is both complicated and very simple. Excelling in OHS requires skills in communication, knowledge of legislation, ability to deliver training, ability to influence the culture around you, and the ability to identify hazards and assess risk. But at the end of the day, it's all about keeping people safe.

Thanks, Justin, for sharing your story with open Colleges.

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