Working in construction work health and safety is an exciting and rewarding career that has the potential to make a large difference in worksite safety. Whether you have previous construction experience or are new to the industry, there are steps you need to take to get started on this journey and equip yourself with the skills and knowledge that can help you reach your goals.
Find out more about roles within work health and safety in construction, and how you can secure your new career in WHS.
Why is Work Health Safety in construction so important?
The importance of work health and safety on a construction site cannot be overemphasised. According to SafeWork Australia, 12,600 workers’ compensation claims are accepted from the construction industry a year. In addition, 35 serious claims are made every day in construction.
A Work Health and Safety position is perfect for those already with construction experience. WHS professionals in construction need to have an understanding of not only the rules and regulations surrounding all workers and sites but also the complex needs and issues unique only to this industry.
What does a Work Health Safety officer in construction do?
A WHS officer in construction’s responsibilities can include responding to workplace incidents, identifying (WHS) hazards and controlling the associated risks, and planning the implementation of a work health and safety management system (WHSMS).
In construction, you’ll have a large focus on developing and executing health and safety plans according to current legal guidelines. You’ll inspect equipment and machinery to observe possible unsafe conditions and monitor compliance with policies and laws by inspecting employees and operations.
As a WHS officer, you’ll often conduct training and presentations on health and safety matters and accident prevention. WHS is not just the practice of ensuring workplace safety but making sure everyone on site understands their responsibilities and regulations, to build a culture of safety in the workplace.
Skills needed for WHS professionals
A successful career in work health and safety construction requires you to have a variety of technical, managerial, and interpersonal skills. To develop a professional skill set that will make you attractive to prospective employers, look into taking courses or vocational programs specific to this industry that can help boost your expertise. Having the right certification is essential for most entry-level positions, so make sure you are certified in all appropriate areas before applying.
Common soft skills to succeed in work health & safety include:
- Strong communication skills
The ability to communicate clearly and instruct workers is crucial, given WHS professionals must interact with members at all levels of an organisation and must be able to articulate and convey important information.
Being able to critically think and continuously question what you can do to improve a workplace and the well-being of workers is paramount.
- Close attention to detail
WHS professionals need to have close attention to detail. They have the responsibility of maintaining safety on site, and nothing can be overlooked.
As part of your career in WHS in construction, it is also important to stay current on the latest technologies and practices. Make sure you have a working knowledge of various software solutions and technologies used by the construction industry, including platforms that help ensure adherence to safety standards in the workplace. Familiarise yourself with new technologies, equipment, materials, and processes that create efficiencies when it comes to workplace health & safety standards. Keep up with advancements and changes in best practices so that you can suggest innovative solutions for creating safer work environments.
Work Health & Safety Courses
Obtaining qualifications and certifications relevant to the WHS construction industry is essential. Look for safety-related qualifications that will give you the necessary information about WSH standards, best practices, and regulations in the construction field. Combining your hands-on experience with a qualification is a way to set you apart from other candidates.
If you’re after the basic skillsets to start your career in work health and safety, the Certificate IV in Work Health & Safety (BSB41419) will provide you with a solid foundation of WHS practices. After completing the course, you’ll be prepared to lead and manage change to work health and safety procedures within a construction setting, while developing transferable skills which will support you in a safety officer role.
For senior roles in WHS, a Diploma of Work Health & Safety (BSB51319) will afford you a more comprehensive understanding of WHS policies and regulations. This course is designed to give you key occupational health and safety skills and strengthen your ability to make informed decisions, preparing you to take on leading WHS roles within any organisation.
Studying either a certificate or diploma in WHS online at the College for Adult Learning allows you the extra flexibility to continue working and gaining valuable experience as you complete your qualification. Upon graduating, you’ll be prepared to enter an entry-level or senior WHS position.
Work Health Safety salaries
Construction Safety Officer salary
A Construction Safety Officer manages risks and safety issues on a construction site. They ensure health and safety plans meet compliance and are current against regulations. This is a common ‘entry’ pathway into WHS for those with previous construction experience and a certificate qualification.
For a long-term career plan, a WHS officer position offers job security and a strong starting salary. The average Construction Safety Officer salary is $64,221 a year (Payscale), with the average job growth for all Workplace Health & Safety officers at 15.9% over the next 5 years.
Health & Safety Manager salary
A Work Health and Safety Manager oversees an organisation’s health and safety compliance. Using risk assessment and management tools, they develop policies, plans, and strategies to promote a safe working environment.
This is a senior position, often for those with extensive experience in work health & safety, coupled with a diploma qualification. As the responsibilities increase, so does the salary. The average Health & Safety Manager’s salary is $117,168 a year (Payscale).
A WHS role in construction is a challenging, but rewarding role. Start your new career on the right foot with an online qualification from the College for Adult Learning. Find out how you can begin your career in work health and safety.