The World Health Organization defines environmental health as, "Those aspects of human health and disease that are determined by factors in the environment. It also refers to the theory and practice of assessing and controlling factors in the environment that can potentially affect health." Keeping this in mind, more often than not environmental health is the responsibility of public health bodies, but there are a large number of corporate companies that have started taking an active interest in this field. Any types of natural or man-made environment that can have an effect on the health of people either living or working there are being considered with caution. The issue of safety and health is being taken more and more seriously by all bodies that are working in this area. These bodies "implement environmental health policies through monitoring and control activities". They also carry out that role by promoting the improvement of environmental parameters and by encouraging the use of environment friendly and healthy technologies and behaviors. They also have a leading role in developing and suggesting new policy areas."
The work of an environment health and safety assistant is very similar to any other standard organizational assistant. A safety health associate primarily has several clerical duties that include the setting up, organizing and coordination of meetings, making sure that conference rooms at different venues are available for such meetings, filing and conserving records of activities and minutes of meetings, receiving calls, and carrying out secretarial responsibilities for an environmental health and safety (EHS) manager, EHS officer, health and safety director, environmental services senior manager or similar officials that they may be attached to professionally.
Depending on the employee organization, the position of a safety health associate can also be described as an environmental health and safety representative, an environmental safety coordinator, or an EHS clerk. However, the job responsibilities of an environmental health and safety associate are not just about performing clerical or secretarial duties. An active environmental health and safety associate who is interested in making a career out of environmental health and safety activities, aspires to gradually climb the ladder to higher positions will definitely have to be more resourceful and agreeable to perform sophisticated tasks. These assignments can include many other activities that are more directly related to environmental health and safety. The jobs of a good safety health associate aspiring to make it big in this line of work can be as listed under:
- A safety health associate will have to carry out the entire process of the evaluation of environmental health and safety in the capacity of an assistant.
- They will be entrusted with conducting safety audits and also assessments related to safety and ergonomics at the work site.
- They will be involved in safety training, analyzing data relating to safety, and making reports to the management of operations.
- A safety health associate is also expected to provide support since he is supposed to be well versed in local comprehension of the relevant regulatory standards
- They are also supposed to assist in the upkeep of regulatory compliance, along with extending support for different processes related to environmental health and safety.
Academic and Skill Sets
As far as academic qualifications are concerned, an aspiring safety health associate is expected to have a bachelor's degree or an associate's degree. Apart from that, he should have excellent communication skills and must know how to handle queries. It is imperative that a safety health associate be resourceful and think out of the box, coming up with original and feasible ideas to handle various situations. The following skills will help:
- Proficiency in using MS Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
- Awareness and fluency with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other such health and safety guidelines
- Good coordination skills
- Interpersonal and team skills
The job prospects for Safety Health Associates are anticipated to grow by 9% between 2006 and 2016. This is a growth rate that is on par with most of the other average jobs in the market. A huge public demand for Safety Health Associates has been noticed which is one of the contributors to such positive career prospects. Moreover, there is a need to replace workers in the field which is also boosting recruitment.
On an average, a safety health associate can earn anything between $35,000 and $65,000, depending on the city and state he is working in. The standard annual salary drawn by a Safety Health Associate was $54,920 in May 2006. The top 10% earned around $83,720, the mid 50% earned between $41,800 and $70, 230 and the last 10% earned around $83,720.
With the global environment conditions worsening day by day, the opportunities for such novel career options are opening up new paths in front of aspiring young students who are not just looking for a lucrative profession but one that is emotionally fulfilling as well.