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Health and safety officer

Working environments will have a number of potential hazards. In the NHS, these would include exposure to chemicals, light, dust, heat, radioactive materials and bacteria and staff working environment/arrangements, such as standing or sitting for long periods or using a visual display unit.

Staff working in health and safety and occupational hygiene, will have a major responsibility for health and safety aspects at their employing trust or other NHS organisation. The job titles will vary between employers and this role could be known as occupational hygienists, health and safety officer or health and safety adviser.

Health and safety officers are responsible for providing a professional health and safety service to all levels of staff working for a specific NHS organisation. They will usually be part of a team, typically including estates officers, estates managers, human resources staff and fire safety officers. They will work with senior managers and advise clinical and non-clinical staff.

Their work ensures that the employing organisation meets the requirements of Health and Safety legislation and corporate Health and Safety strategy and arrangements. Increasingly, the role is focused on prevention, rather than cure, and checking, auditing and recommending safe working practices.

The work of health safety staff depend on the exact role. Examples of specific tasks include:

  • Developing and administering procedures to ensure compliance with Health and Safety in specialist areas
  • Maintaining close liaison with scientific, technical, engineering, estates, maintenance and administrative staff to ensure implementation of regulations pertaining to Health and Safety
  • Maintaining systems of auditing and monitoring of the organisation's sites, in accordance with current Health and Safety legislation and site Code of Safety Practice, including specialist elements (such as radiological safety, construction and biological safety)
  • Participating, and leading as necessary, in emergency and unplanned events including, participating in on call duty for evenings and weekends
  • Participating in safety groups and in investigations of accidents and incidents as necessary
  • Maintaining records and systems necessary to fulfil health and safety policy including those containing confidential information
  • Developing and delivering training to staff in core safety subjects and also specialist health and safety areas
  • Organising and delivering a variety of training courses to managers and staff within the organisation covering such topics as, health and Safety for managers and supervisors, risk assessment, hazardous substances, display screen equipment, office safety and fire safety

Health and safety officers work in a range of locations, including special health authorities and agencies such as the Health Protection Agency and NHS Blood & Transplant.

Entry requirements

To work in an health and safety officer role, you will usually need to hold qualifications relevant to that role.

Typically, you will need a postgraduate qualification (possibly to masters level) in occupational health and safety and be a Member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health. You may be required to hold a National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH) Diploma. There may also be requirements to be familiar with Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) legislation.

Exact entry requirements will depend upon the employer and level of responsibility and are contained within the individual person specifications for job vacancies.

Skills

Staff working in health and safety roles may be required to work in areas of buildings which are not easily accessible, such as air conditioning ducts or roof spaces with limited headroom. A driving licence may also be required for some posts.

Depending on the role, skills required would include:

  • attention to detail
  • interpret and explain relevant policies and procedures to a range of staff
  • negotiate and persuade others
  • produce reports and maintain records
  • keep up to date with policies relating to Health and Safety and occupational hygiene

Training

It may be possible to gain relevant qualifications whilst in post, but this will depend upon the employer.

It will usually be a requirement to undertake Continuing Professional Development (CPD), in order to maintain an up-to-date working knowledge of health and safety matters.

Financial support

The employing organisation may provide financial support and/or time off to attend relevant training courses.

Pay for health and safety officers

Health and safety advisers working in the NHS, will be paid on Agenda for Change rates. Examples include Health and Safety adviser who will usually be on Band 6 and Health and Safety manager who will be on Band 7.

Job vacancies

For information about current job vacancies in the NHS, please visit the NHS Jobs website.

Further information

For further information, contact:

Institution of Occupational Safety and Health
The Grange
Highfield Drive
Wigston
Leicestershire
LE18 1NN, UK
Tel: 0116 257 3100
Fax: 0116 257 3101
Web: http://www.iosh.co.uk/ 

British Occupational Hygiene Society
5/6 Melbourne Business Court
Millennium Way
Pride Park
Derby
DE24 8LZ
Tel: 01332 298101
E-mail: admin@bohs.org
Web: http://www.bohs.org/

Professional Organisations in Occupational Safety and Health (POOSH)
c/o the Faculty & Society of Occupational Medicine
6 St Andrews Place
Regents Park
London
NW1 4LB
Email: admin@poosh.org
Web: http://www.poosh.org/

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