By William Cowie
When someone mentions occupational health and safety, what’s the first thing you think of? Construction? Mining? Manufacturing?
These industries are permanently etched in our minds as ‘dangerous’ – and they are! Even so, those are far from the most deadly occupations in Australia.
There were 192 workplace deaths reported by Safe Work Australia in 2012:
• 66 deaths in transport, postal & warehousing
• 45 deaths in agriculture, forestry & fishing
• 21 deaths in construction
• 14 deaths in manufacturing
• 7 deaths in administrative & support services
• 6 deaths in public administration & safety
• 5 deaths in arts & recreation
• 5 deaths in mining
• 4 deaths in electricity, gas, water & waste services
• 3 deaths in education and training
• 2 deaths in health care & social assistance
• 2 deaths in other services
• 2 deaths in retail trade
• 2 deaths in wholesale trade
• 1 death in accommodation & food services
• 1 death in financial & insurance services
• 1 death in government administration & defence
• 1 death in professional, scientific & technical services
• 4 deaths in unknown industries (including overseas)
Looking at those figures, two things are apparent:
1. Far too many Australians are dying at work.
2. Occupational health and safety is a universal necessity, in every industry.
Those numbers don’t even include the injuries, illness and diseases suffered by workers at their job.
Safety is a universal requirement
No matter where you work, organisations have an obligation to provide their employees with:
• safe premises,
• safe machinery and materials,
• safe systems of work,
• information, instruction, training and supervision,
• a suitable working environment and facilities.
Learn more about occupational health and safety acts, regulations and codes of practice here: Occupational Health and Safety Acts, Regulations and Codes of Practice. You’ll also find occupational health and safety resources for each state!
You can make a difference in the work health and safety industry
Everyone needs to be conscious of safety in the workplace. If your passion is safety, then your interest can be the foundation of an amazing career. Safety officers have many responsibilities. Their core concern is coordinating health and safety systems in an organisation.
Other duties include identifying and assessing risks to health and safety, and implementing controls for those risks. They’re also invaluable for providing advice about hazard reductions, accident prevention and occupational health and safety to employees and management.
An occupational health and safety officer can also specialise in roles such as:
- Ergonomist – specialising in investigating and designing equipment and systems to make them more suitable for human operators. Ergonomists are also valuable for advising on psychological factors that are impacting work performance.
- Occupational/Industrial Hygienist – specialising in investigating problems involving occupational or industrial hygiene in the workplace. Includes biological and chemical hazards.
Safety training is not just for safety officers
Formal safety qualifications are highly valued in many job positions. Even if you don’t plan to be a full time safety officer, a safety qualification can be an asset in your career.
Safety qualifications are highly complementary to jobs in human resources and management. They are suitable for small business owners needing to improve safety standards in their business.
In fact, almost any interested employee can benefit from skills in safety, and take on more responsibility for ensuring occupational health and safety standards in their own workplace.
To get started in occupational health and safety, check out courses like the Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety. Click here for more information.
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