What Does A Safety Officer Do?
Safety officers play a very vital role in ensuring that employees work in conditions that are free from hazards to health and safety. Many of them work for government agencies, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health where their role focuses on making inspections of different workplaces to see if they comply with established safety, health and environment regulations. In their inspections, they identify dangers that are present in the workplace and make recommendations on how best these can be addressed. If flagrant violations are noted during these safety inspections, they may impose sanctions like warnings and fines. They may even make recommendations to stop company operations if the firm practices activities and processes that are obviously unsafe for the workers.
Whether they work for the government or for the private sector, safety officers also check the physical condition of the workplace to determine how the layout of the environment affects the performance and productivity of employees. For example, if they notice that equipment being used by workers such as their tables and chairs are uncomfortable, they may make recommendations for ergonomically-friendly desks and chairs. They may also look at the noise level, the by-products emitted and the pollution level of the workplace and make recommendations to manage these dangers. These may include requiring personnel to wear safety gear or improving the production process so that pollution is minimized.
Safety officers are also responsible for coming up with regular safety training programs for employees. These activities will cover a wide range of topics that will cater to the needs of the workers. They may teach employees on the procedures that should be followed in case of emergencies that could happen in the workplace. They may also teach them on how to operate the safety equipment to manage these emergencies. For example, knowing what to do in case of fire and the ability to operate a fire extinguisher correctly will go a long way towards stopping a fire in one part of a facility and preventing a full-blown conflagration that could damage an entire building.
Conducting investigations in the wake of an incident is part and parcel of the work of safety officers. They determine the causes of these accidents by talking to the personnel involved as well as to those who happened to be present when the incident took place. After getting to the facts of the case, they may then make recommendations that would prevent the same thing from happening again. In cases where workers are trapped and need to be rescued, they may also coordinate the rescue efforts of various agencies. It is also part of their work to visit the workers who have been injured to ensure that they get the proper medical care and rehabilitation. They also assist these workers in their transition back to work.
Writing reports, attending meetings and preparing safety and health plans are all part of the work of safety officers. Thus, they need to possess excellent communication skills, both orally and in writing. They should also be very knowledgeable about the rules and regulations that relate to the safety and health of workers and their work environment.