What is Work Health & Safety?

Work/Workplace health and safety, or WHS is the practice of ensuring health and safety systems are in place within an organisation to keep all workers safe. A workplace health and safety career is a very rewarding one, with job opportunities in every industry and a huge increase in job demand and security thanks to COVID-19. The demand for WHS jobs or Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) jobs in Australia is steadily increasing every year.

What are you looking for?

what skills are employers looking for in work health & safety roles?

There are a variety of skills needed to have a successful career and job in a WHS role. Having close attention to detail allows professionals to identify and assess risks big and small. Being able to critically think and continuously question what you can do to improve a workplace and the well-being of workers is paramount. The ability to communicate clearly and instruct workers is also crucial, given WHS professionals must interact with members at all levels of an organisation and must be able to articulate and convey important information. Empathy has a large part in workplace health safety jobs in having to understand working in different roles and risks that employees may encounter, as well as the very important psychological work health safety and the role mental health plays in keeping everyone safe.

HARD SKILLS

  • Research capabilities
  • Able to analyse data, reports and documentation
  • Detailed understanding and knowledge of compliance
  • Numerical skills

SOFT SKILLS

  • Critical thinking
  • Digital literacy
  • Communication and instructional skills
  • Close attention to detail in risk and processes
  • Leadership

TRAITS

  • Empathy
  • Fast-acting under pressure and in high-risk situations
  • Decisive
  • Proactive

JOB ROLES in work health & safety

health and safety officer

Average Salary
$57,000

Health and Safety Officers are responsible for implementing and improving safety systems within an organisation. They are responsible for identifying risks and hazards and putting the right processes and controls in place to remove, mitigate or reduce risk to employees. Depending on the size of the organisation, Health and Safety Officers may have a different primary role within the business and have WHS responsibilities on top of that role.

work health & safety coordinator

Average Salary
$57,000

A Work Health and Safety Coordinator ensures all OHS guidelines are followed within a workplace and are usually responsible for providing operational assistance and advice to the organisation regarding the day-to-day management of WHS risks. Depending on the size of the organisation, this job title is similar and interchangeable to WHS Officer and Health Safety Advisor job titles, however in larger organisations there may be multiple WHS Coordinators working within a team under the management of a Health and Safety Manager.

health and safety advisor

Average Salary
$60,000

A Health and Safety Advisor is responsible for advising management on any workplace health and safety issues that may arise, either existing or potential future risks. They identify risks within the business, manage all safety issues, train staff and communicate with internal and external stakeholders about improving the safety standards within the organisation.

health and safety manager

Average Salary
$70,000

Health and Safety Managers are responsible for managing all of a business’s WHS requirements on behalf of an employer. They ensure that the workplace complies with all relevant WHS laws. This role requires a higher level of technical knowledge and responsibility than a Work Health Safety Advisor, and often are responsible for more employees and departments within a larger organisation.

OFFICE MANAGER

Average Salary
$55,000

Office managers oversee the day-to-day operations of an office, usually managing the adminstrative and support teams. Office managers are more likely to have WHS responsibilities within their role, and many adminstrative or operational staff transition to WHS careers based on previous experience and skills they have been already developing.

human resources coordinator

Average Salary
$60,000

With a wide variety of responsibilities, working in this role is ideal for someone looking to step up from an assistant role. HR Coordinators usually look after staff orientation and employment processes, as well as data reporting and administrative duties. HR Coordinators are likely to have some WHS responsibilities within their role.

health and safety officer

Average Salary
$57,000

Health and Safety Officers are responsible for implementing and improving safety systems within an organisation. They are responsible for identifying risks and hazards and putting the right processes and controls in place to remove, mitigate or reduce risk to employees. Depending on the size of the organisation, Health and Safety Officers may have a primary role within the business and have WHS responsibilities on top of that role.

work health & safety coordinator

Average Salary
$57,000

A Work Health and Safety Coordinator ensures all OHS guidelines are followed within a workplace and are usually responsible for providing operational assistance and advice to the organisation regarding the day-to-day management of WHS risks. Depending on the size of the organisation, this job title is similar and interchangeable to WHS Officer and Health Safety Advisor job titles, however in larger organisations there may be multiple WHS Coordinators working within a team under the management of a Health and Safety Manager.

health and safety advisor

Average Salary
$60,000

A Health and Safety Advisor is responsible for advising management on any workplace health and safety issues that may arise, either existing or potential future risks. They identify risks within the business, manage all safety issues, train staff and communicate with internal and external stakeholders about improving the safety standards within the organisation.

health and safety manager

Average Salary
$70,000

Health and Safety Managers are responsible for managing all of a business’s WHS requirements on behalf of an employer. They ensure that the workplace complies with all relevant WHS laws. This role requires a higher level of technical knowledge and responsibility than a Work Health Safety Advisor, and often are responsible for more employees and departments within a larger organisation.

What does an average day look like as a workplace health and safety professional?

A job in work health and safety is a job that changes every day. Professionals working in WHS roles have various responsibilities including proactively identifying daily risks, implementing ongoing systems for recurring risks, ensuring compliance within industry standards, managing employees returning to work after an injury and managing the overall wellbeing of staff in the workplace.

Safety roles allow ‘out of office’ freedom as you can visit different sites, research new methods, or go to learning seminars to further develop your skills and knowledge. Because new technologies and methods are being invented all the time, WHS is an area where you can keep learning on the job and understand how to introduce new safety methods, skills, systems and technologies.

Workplace injury and death statistics in Australia

In 2007, a total of 310 Australians lost their lives at work, yet by 2018, that figure was 146. When allowing for an increase in workforce numbers over that period, the death rate was reduced by nearly two thirds, from 3 deaths per 100,000 workers to just 1.21 deaths.1

Government support for WHS

Governments are committed to continuously improving occupational health and safety, given that work-related injury and disease costs the economy $62 billion annually or an average cost of $117,000 per claim.1

In 2018-2019, WHS authorities across Australia undertook:

  • 229,236 workplace interventions
  • issued 55,568 WHS breach notices
  • finalised 264 legal proceedings that resulted in $18.6 million in fines ordered by the courts.1
More than just physical wellbeing

Workplace safety isn’t just about physical wellbeing anymore but also psychological. The correlation between workplace accidents and increased levels of stress or poor mental health is clear, which is why the recent shift in focussing on workplace mental wellbeing is so important. It has been estimated that workplace stress affects around 32% of all Australians, and this has a detrimental effect on workplace performance.2

The gig economy

WHS laws around ‘gig workers’ in the increased shift to a gig economy must be assessed. Before the rapid growth in the gig economy sector, independent contractors were usually responsible for their own insurances however the rapid growth has highlighted the current lack of industry regulation in this area.2

1Safework Australia 2Prochoice.com.au

Industry Insights

courses in work health & safety

A career in Work Health Safety is known to be rewarding, challenging and come with a great salary. Given the nature of this career, it is essential to have the right qualifications to ensure you have the latest compliance knowledge and skills to successfully operate within your WHS role. 

Develop 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. 

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