Establishing an excellent health and safety record has many implications for modern organizations, from lowering insurance premiums to avoiding expensive and potentially disastrous litigation for failing to protect consumers, employees, and the general public.
What to Expect in an Environmental Health and Safety Job
There are a wide range of health and safety issues that confront any business or public body in the modern environment. Health and safety auditor jobs deal with the protection of the public, customers, suppliers, employees, and the environment itself.
Environment health and safety officers are to be found handling chemical safety, industrial safety, and food safety, as well as environmental impact studies and public health issues.
Regular safety auditing has become a feature of both public and private organizations and forms the bedrock of the standard management process for developing a high-quality health and safety record. Such a record in turn leads to enhanced public confidence, increased customer satisfaction, and preferential treatment when it comes to gaining business from government and other business partners. It goes without saying, after all, that regulations and legislation require some measure of safety auditing and compliance no matter what the business activity taking place.
Working conditions vary widely depending on the exact nature of the duties the given auditor is engaged in. Many practitioners spend a substantial amount of time working onsite or at a facility that is being supervised as opposed to being office-based. Substantial travel may also be involved depending on the scope of operations including the quality control process for suppliers and distributors of a company's products and services.
Education, Training, and Certification Requirements
Environmental health and safety jobs deal with such wide-ranging issues that the qualifications and certifications required for these jobs vary widely depending on the actual role and purpose of a given audit and the industry within which the work is being carried out.
Professional accreditation and certification is not mandatory in a general sense, however, there is increasing preference for those candidates who can demonstrate some form of professional certification. The Board of Environmental, Health and Safety Certification is a leading professional institute handling the professional certification of practitioners and is closely linked to internal auditing and industry bodies.
The Outlook for Environmental Health and Safety Jobs
Public health and safety is a major issue, and the regulatory environment and business case for ensuring compliance with the rules and engendering confidence in a business continue to fuel demand for health and safety auditors. The recent economic downturn has affected many parts of the job market, but the auditing profession has actually found itself under increasing pressure to recruit and train more professionals as demand currently outstrips supply; in short, there are more jobs than practitioners available to fill them.
As other demand-creating factors continue to come into play, the future outlook should be highly positive for the profession.
How Much Do Environmental Health and Safety Jobs Pay?
Salary levels for these auditor jobs vary widely depending upon the precise nature of the role in question and the skills and experience required to meet the needs of the employer. Highly technical and risk-sensitive jobs in areas such as hazardous materials and waste handling will command higher salaries than, say, a food health inspector position.
Larger employers also tend to pay much higher salaries and offer better benefits packages than smaller employers, as well as providing a more structured career progression path.
Entry-level positions in the field are continuously being created, and new hires for environmental health and safety jobs can expect to receive an average of $39,000 per year depending on the sector and academic qualifications required. Accordingly, salaries can be much higher as there is great variance across the profession.
The current regulatory environment and consumer-driven desire to meet public health and safety standards has created a huge demand for environmental health and safety practitioners. The legal liability exposures for many businesses that need to protect themselves, their employees, and their customers have created a business case for increasing expenditures for health and safety issues. The news, after all, commonly carries stories of multimillion-dollar settlements for public safety and liability cases involving workplace accidents that have endangered the public and employees alike.
As such, demand for practitioners is increasing and the profession is further responding by establishing professional accreditation and certification standards for its members. A large number of educational and professional bodies have established degree programs and professional testing and accreditation programs to formalize the qualification process, and employers are increasingly demonstrating a preference for candidates with the appropriate qualifications and experience.