Work Health and Safety Careers in Construction
Update: If you want to become a Workplace Safety or Safety Officer Trainer, check out our latest guide here.
Occupational health is a big issue in workplaces across Australia. Workplace injuries and fatalities are incredibly demoralising for workers, leading to reduced productivity.
They are also a huge expense for individual organisations and the Australian economy overall.
Construction sites are dangerous places to work and construction is one of Australia’s most hazardous industries. Between 2003 – 2019 there were 3,936 work-related fatalities recorded — and in 2019 alone, out of the 183 fatalities recorded during the year, construction sites in Australia accounted for 26 fatalities (14%).
Potential hazards that can lead to work-related accidents in construction include:
- Falls when working at heights
- Slips and trips
- Falling objects
- Moving heavy loads
- Bad working positions
- Enclosed spaces
- Crush injuries from excavation work
- Being struck or crushed by vehicles and heavy equipment
- Rough materials
- Exposure to dangerous substances and hazardous materials (chemical and biological)
- Vibrations from tools
- Power tools
- Radiation exposure
- Dust inhalation
- Asbestos and other dangerous materials
If you’ve been around construction sites for a while, you probably already know what injuries and health issues these can cause.
For you, an injury might mean an extended stay in the hospital, lost income, and reduced quality of life. For employers, it can mean compensation & rehabilitation expenses, lost productivity, and fines from regulators.
For these reasons, safety advisors that are fully immersed in safety training are employed by construction organisations to ensure that employees go home safe at the end of each day.
This means there are opportunities to become a full-time workplace health and safety advisor in the construction industry.
Here’s how you can become a safety officer in construction and implement work health and safety:
Training and Qualifications for Construction Safety Officers
The Australian standard for occupational health and safety professionals or safety officers is the Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety online training.
This training course teaches you how to identify hazards, control and assess risks, and apply today’s safety laws in workplaces such as construction, mining and offices. This is vital if you’re keen to prevent workplace accidents from happening.
As part of the requirements, you will be asked to assess your own workplace or inspect a simulated construction site to practice the skills you need to become a safety officer.
Holding this nationally recognised certificate is commonly considered the minimum training to become a qualified safety representative.
This means that you can participate in your organisation’s work health and safety management planning when it comes to OHS and WHS policies.
Employers may also want you to do more advanced training and qualifications in health and safety, such as a Diploma of Work Health and Safety, or even a Bachelor in Occupational Health, Safety and Environmental Management.
Many safety officers build on their basic Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety qualification with additional specialist training. You can find a list of related courses here.
Job Description and Responsibilities of a Construction Safety Officer
Safety professionals in construction typically spend a significant amount of time on fieldwork for site, personnel, and equipment inspections or audits — all to make sure workplace safety protocols are in place.
They are also responsible for doing paperwork to comply with reporting and documentation requirements of your state act and regulator.
Other duties may include:
- Reviewing safety management plans, emergency procedures, and implementing changes
- Creating procedures for injuries and emergencies
- Enforcing the Codes of Practice for safety in your state or territory
- Control risks by making sure harmful materials are stored according to regulations
- Training staff to properly handle equipment
- Improving health conditions by creating strategies for disposal systems, pollution control and handling hazardous substances
Having certain skills and characteristics is extremely helpful if you want to become a good construction safety officer. These include:
- Excellent communication skills to explain how and why your policies should be followed
- Diplomacy and assertiveness to persuade and notify employees of safety violations
- Logical thinking to investigate and anticipate accidents
Salaries and Wages of Safety Officers
The average annual salary of a full-time Work Health and Safety Officer is $66,786. This is equal to earning a pay of $29.33 per hour.
Similar positions like Occupational & Environmental Health Professionals earn close to $35 per hour, depending on your location and experience.
Jobs for Construction Safety Officers
Safety professionals can be found in many areas in Australia. Click on your state or territory below to search for job vacancies for construction safety officer in your location:
- Sydney and New South Wales (NSW)
- Melbourne and Victoria (VIC)
- Brisbane and Queensland (QLD)
- Adelaide and Southern Australia (SA)
- Perth and Western Australia (WA)
- Darwin and Northern Territory (NT)
- Hobart and Tasmania (TAS)
- Canberra and Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
Work health and safety is vital in hazardous industries like construction.
Construction businesses invest in safety by employing safety officers to minimise the risk of workplace injuries and to make sure their organisation complies with state and national safety regulations and WHS laws.
Qualified safety officers and safety specialists typically hold general safety qualifications like the Cert IV WHS plus a range of specialist qualifications in specific areas of safety.
Everyone wants to return home safely at the end of each day, which is why safety training for a safety officer is very important.
If you’re interested in safety, why not start your career as a safety advisor and help prevent injuries and fatalities in the construction industry?
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