How to Become an Occupational Health and Safety Officer

An Occupational Health and Safety Officer (OHSO) is an indispensable part of any professional organisation, responsible for ensuring labour compliance and creating a safe working environment for employees.

The daily role of an OHSO might include:1

  • Developing and implementing health and safety procedures in the workplace
  • Ensuring an organisation meets the requirements of health and safety compliance
  • Carrying out safety inspections and risk assessments

OHSOs are also responsible for supervising junior OHS staff, and conducting relevant health and safety training with other employees. If an accident occurs in the workplace, the responsibility falls to the OHSO to investigate the incident, and adjust future policies accordingly.

What are the key responsibilities of an OHSO?

If you want to be an OHSO, you need an eye for detail and a talent for problem-solving. Your role will require you to manage compliance issues across your organisation, and implement systems and strategies to avoid health and safety issues in the workplace.

Key responsibilities of an Occupational Health and Safety Officer include:

Operations management

  • Improve internal processes and systems through relevant training
  • Determine how different facility layouts will help or hinder production

Facilities management

  • Analyse an organisation’s strategy to ensure alignment with facilities management best practice
  • Update facilities policies and processes to align with industry standards and legislation
  • Implement strategies for balancing maintenance and upgrades to the working environment

Labour Law compliance

  • Promote fair labour operations in all aspects of an organisation
  • Understand the complexities of employment legislation to ensure compliance and avoid labour disputes
Related:  Duties & Responsibilities of a Construction Safety Officer

What is the career path of a Occupational Health and Safety Officer?


The career prospects for an OHSO are incredibly diverse. With the sheer scope and complexity of national health and safety legislation, organisations are dependent on in-house specialists and external consultants to ensure their company meets compliance requirements.

Health and safety legislation is set at a government level and filters down into every single industry. As a professional in this field, businesses will rely on you for your insight and expertise, giving you the freedom to choose the industry where you will specialise.

What is the potential salary for a Occupational Health and Safety Officer?


Earning potential in Occupational Health and Safety will depend on your professional designation, work experience, and your ability to specialise in niche areas like construction and facilities management.

Click on a country to see what you can expect to get paid as an Occupational Health and Safety Officer in either South Africa, the United Kingdom or the United States of America:

What are the education and training requirements for an Occupational Health and Safety Officer?


A future in OHS is the perfect opportunity for someone who doesn’t wish to attend university, but is looking for a role that will make them indispensable in the workplace. No bachelor’s degree is required – all you need to become a fully qualified OHSO is a training course and a certificate from a relevant professional body.

  • Obtain a professional certificate

Complete an online short course that will provide you with a broad overview of the different aspects of health and safety legislation and equip you to meet compliance requirements within any organisation.

  • Obtain recognition from a professional body
Related:  Duties & Responsibilities of a Construction Safety Officer

With a certified qualification and some work experience under your belt, you can qualify for a membership with a professional body. Membership with a professional body like SAIOSH establishes you as a professional in your field and opens doors for career growth and increased earning potential.

  • Add to your certification portfolio

With additional certificates in Labour Law and Facilities Management, you can specialise in an industry of your choice. Make yourself an indispensable source of expertise, and help companies ensure compliance across the organisation.

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