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Occupational Health and Safety Officer

Occupational health and safety officers visit places of employment to detect unsafe or unhealthy working conditions, and ensure compliance with laws and regulations governing workplace safety.

Also Known As:Inspector, Occupational Hazards Specialist, Occupational Health and Safety Specialist, Safety Officer
NOC Number(s):2263
Minimum Education:Education/training requirements vary
Employment Outlook:Job openings: turnover plus new jobs due to below average growth in occupation in Alberta 2013-2017
Interests:M I D

Duties | Working Conditions | Personal Characteristics | Education | Employment | Salary | Other Information | Related Occupations | Related School Subjects | Related Field of Study

Duties

Occupational health and safety officers employed by federal, provincial and municipal governments inspect a wide variety of workplaces (for example, construction sites, offices, mines). They may specialize in inspecting a particular type of workplace but, in general, officers:

  • inspect workplaces to ensure equipment, materials, and production processes do not present a safety and health hazard 
  • investigate health and safety related complaints
  • enforce health and safety laws and regulations 
  • review and make decisions regarding situations where a worker has refused to work on the grounds that danger exists, or the work will cause danger to the worker
  • provide advice regarding the development of safe and healthy practices
  • encourage managers, supervisors and employees to participate in occupational health and safety programs 
  • investigate workplace fatalities, serious injuries and near misses.

These duties require health and safety officers to have a thorough understanding of legislation relating to safety standards and the ability to advise corrective action and facilitate change to improve the health and safety culture of workplaces. Health and safety officers also must keep informed about changes in technology.

For information about health and safety officers employed by companies, see the Occupational Health and Safety Advisor occupational profile.


Working Conditions

Health and safety officers usually are responsible for a territory or specific industrial process. Considerable travel may be required. Working hours depend on the types of workplaces they inspect. Overtime may be required, particularly after an incident or a hazardous situation has been identified.

Health and safety officers spend most of their time in the field where they may be exposed to potentially dangerous situations. Officer routinely are required to enter confined spaces, climb ladders and work in dusty conditions. The rest of their time is spent in offices located at central or regional headquarters.


Personal Characteristics

Health and safety officers need the following characteristics:

  • good communication skills, both in writing and in person
  • mediation and conflict resolution skills
  • the ability to manage multiple projects
  • the ability to remain open-minded and objective
  • good health and physical fitness
  • good interpersonal skills.

They should enjoy having clear rules and organized methods for their work, analyzing information, and acting as an advocate for workers.


Educational Requirements

Health and safety officers must have several years of related work experience. They also must have a bachelor's degree in science, engineering or a related discipline, or a related post-secondary diploma. For information about suitable degree and diploma programs, see related occupational profiles (for example, Civil Engineer, Civil Engineering Technologist, Mechanical Engineer, Mechanical Engineering Technologist, Occupational Health and Safety Advisor, Psychologist, Registered Nurse, Toxicologist).

The Board of Canadian Registered Safety Professionals offers the designation Canadian Registered Safety Professional (CRSP) to applicants who have been employed as safety professionals for at least three years and have successfully completed an evaluation, interview and examination process.


Employment and Advancement

Occupational health and safety officers are employed by federal, provincial and municipal governments.

Advancement to management positions usually is through competition and depends on the individual's initiative, management skills, educational background and work experience.

Occupational health and safety officers are part of the larger National Occupational Classification 2263: Inspectors in Public and Environmental Health and Occupational Health and Safety. In Alberta, 75 per cent of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 10,000 Albertans are employed in the Inspectors in Public and Environmental Health and Occupational Health and Safety occupational group which is expected to have an annual below average growth of 1.2 per cent from 2013 to 2017 in Alberta. It is forecasted that about 120 new positions will be created each year in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. (Note: Since occupational health and safety officers form only a part of the larger occupational group on which this forecast is based, only a portion of the new positions created will be for occupational health and safety officers.)

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Section revised November 2013

Salary

According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Inspectors in Public and Environmental Health and Occupational Health and Safety occupational group earned on average from $31.30 to $41.28 an hour. The mean wage for this group was $37.10 an hour.

For more detailed information, see WAGEinfo.

Section revised February 2012

Other Sources of Information

Post-secondary institution calendars and websites (see Educational Requirements above)

EDinfo website: www.alis.alberta.ca/edinfo

Board of Canadian Registered Safety Professionals (BCRSP) website: www.bcrsp.ca

Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) website: www.ccohs.ca

ECO Canada (Environmental Careers Organization) website: www.eco.ca


Related Occupational Profiles
Environmental Auditor
Environmental Engineer
Hazardous Waste Management Technologist
Human Resources Professional
Occupational Health and Safety Advisor
Occupational Hygienist
Public Health Inspector
Safety Codes Officer
Transport Officer

Related High School Subjects
Health, Recreation and Human Services (Health Care Services); Mathematics; Natural Resources (Environmental Stewardship); and Science (Biology)

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
Engineering and Science Technologies; Engineering, Architecture and Related Studies; Health Care and Medical Sciences; Sciences; and Trades, Industrial and Related Training

Produced May 2011
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For more information on career planning, occupations and educational programs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website at alis.alberta.ca, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

The information contained in this profile was current as of the dates shown. Salaries, employment outlook and educational programs may change. Please check the information before making any career decisions.


Government of Alberta, Human Services