Occupational health and safety specialists analyze many types of work environments and work procedures. Specialists inspect workplaces for adherence to regulations on safety, health, and the environment. They also design programs to prevent disease or injury to workers and damage to the environment.
Occupational health and safety specialists typically do the following:
Identify hazards in the workplace
Collect samples of potentially toxic materials for analysis
Inspect and evaluate workplace environments, equipment, and practices for compliance with corporate and government health and safety standards and regulations
Design and implement workplace processes and procedures that help protect workers from hazardous work conditions
Investigate accidents and incidents to identify their causes and to determine how they might be prevented
Conduct training on a variety of topics, such as emergency preparedness
Occupational health and safety specialists examine the workplace for environmental or physical factors that could affect employee health, safety, comfort, and performance. They may examine factors such as lighting, equipment, materials, and ventilation. Specialists seek to increase worker productivity by reducing absenteeism and equipment downtime. They also seek to save money by lowering insurance premiums and workers' compensation payments and by preventing government fines.
Some specialists develop and conduct employee safety and training programs. These programs cover a range of topics, such as how to use safety equipment correctly and how to respond in an emergency.
In addition to protecting workers, specialists work to prevent harm to property, the environment, and the public by inspecting workplaces for chemical, physical, radiological, and biological hazards. Specialists who work for governments conduct safety inspections and can impose fines.
The tasks of occupational health and safety specialists vary by industry, workplace, and types of hazards affecting employees. The following are examples of types of occupational health and safety specialists:
Ergonomists consider the design of industrial, office, and other equipment to maximize workers' comfort, safety, and productivity.
Industrial or occupational hygienists identify workplace health hazards, such as lead, asbestos, noise, pesticides, and communicable diseases.