In this article we look at some important facts about occupational health and safety training programs. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), Occupational Health is the promotion and maintenance of the highest degree of physical, mental and social well-being of workers in all occupations by preventing departures from health, controlling risks and the adaptation of work to people, and people to their jobs. There are various requirements for occupational health and safety diploma programs, occupational health and safety certificate programs, as well as occupational health and safety program requirements for bachelor and masters degrees. This are often prescribed by principles of quality assurance and quality control guidelines like ISO 9000 (International Standards Organization) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations and laws. Depending upon the industry involved, there may be review of emergency procedures and emergency activity training for workers. Some of the hazards that are noted are fire, water, ergonomics, pathogens, hazardous materials and transportation.
Occupational Health and Safety Education and Training
Occupational health and safety training courses are available online and sometimes at trade schools and community colleges. The workers in this field help to identify health and safety issues in the workplace in order to provide an environment for workers that is free of environmental, physical and safety hazards. Courses may include:
- Environmental Law and Safety
- Emergency Procedures
- Fire Science and Protection
- Accident prevention
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Regulations and Standards
- Environmental Protection Agency Regulations and Standards
High school courses that lead to positions in this field should include an interest in mathematics, science, communications, chemistry, biology and physics. The trainer might be required to write and explain procedures to individuals and groups. The knowledge about safety and health issues must be conveyed to those who work in the industry. More specific training on the details of the tasks is often obtained under the supervision of an experienced agent.
Occupational Health and Safety Careers
Typically, workers in this career will obtain and maintain certification. Certification is usually voluntary. At the technician level, the Council on Certification of Health, Environmental and Safety Technologists offers certification. Usually occupational health and safety training coursework is required to be re-certified.
Some of the specific tasks performed by technicians in the field of occupational safety and health include designing workspaces, testing air quality and inspecting machines. The duties of the technicians typically improve productivity of workers since absenteeism is lowered and there is lessened downtime for equipment. This can help employers by reducing worker’s compensation payment and insurance premiums.
Technicians often are responsible for taking precise measurements and collecting data. This may be routine inspections or might be in response to an accident or other incident. Some testing and data collection could focus on water, air, equipment safety and surfaces. Implementation and testing of safety programs is ongoing.
Calibration of scientific equipment is part of the duties, since technicians typically measure hazards including radiation and noise levels. In order to do so, they must follow exact collection and handling methods for vapors, dust, gases and other materials that are potentially toxic. Positions might include:
- Loss prevention specialist
- Environmental protection specialist
- Occupational health and safety inspector
- OSHA or EPA agent or specialist
- Industrial hygienist
Equipment safety is tested and reviewed for such items as machine guards, lifting tools and scaffolding. Personal safety equipment is checked by the technician to ensure that is used by workers. These include eyewear, hard hats, respirators and masks. Less obvious hazards are reviewed and plans set in place to prevent ergonomic issues, poor air quality, mildew and mold. The technicians are exposed to the same type of environmental issues that affect employees in the tested sites.
Estimated Income and Projected Career Outlook
The job growth in the industry is expected to be faster than average. Nearly a quarter of technicians worked for government agencies. People with experience and certification have the highest job placement. The specific industry will make a difference in the type and intensity of training for the inspection job. The amount of travel and the location of work sites also depend on the industry.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the median annual wage of occupational health and safety specialists was $64,660 in 2010. The lowest 10% earned less than $38,780, and the top 10% earned more than $94,180. The employment of occupational health and safety specialists is expected to grow by 9% from 2010 to 2020.
The median annual wage of occupational health and safety technicians was $45,330 in 2010. The lowest 10% earned less than $27,580, and the top 10% earned more than $72,220. The employment of occupational health and safety technicians is expected to grow by 13% from 2010 to 2020 (BLS).
The highest wages were those employed in mine safety positions. Occupational health and safety training positions in government agencies usually provide health benefits that might not be available when working for private firms.
Occupational Health and Safety Programs
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