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Health and safety managers aim to minimize accidents and other problems in the workplace. Manufacturers, healthcare systems, construction firms, educational institutions, and others hire these managers to maintain safe environments that meet standards. Hours tend to be full time and regular, but travel may be required to visit branches or worksites. Managers perform some duties at their desk but also walk around facilities to oversee operations.

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Health and Safety Manager Duties and Responsibilities

While the nature of the employer’s industry greatly affects daily tasks performed by a health and safety manager, some core responsibilities go along with the position. Our evaluation of job postings reveals these common duties:

Monitor Workplace Health and Safety

Health and safety managers constantly look for possible problems in the workplace, both informally and through scheduled inspections. In doing so, they hope to spot hazards before negative incidents occur. The manager's actions create a better environment and ensure the company complies with government and industry regulations.

Train Employees

Do workers know what to do in the event of a fire or how to alert others to a possible intruder? Are people disposing waste properly? Don't wait to find out. Teaching employees about safety policies and procedures creates awareness and increases the likelihood of them doing things the right way. Managers especially take care to instruct new hires, but retraining existing workers with drills, seminars, and periodic reminders keeps vital information front and center for everyone.

Encourage Best Health and Safety Practices

Giving people rules or info is one thing, but getting them to follow along is quite another. Health and safety managers often develop programs to promote and reward positive behavior like wearing proper safety gear. They ask staff members for feedback and suggestions on how to improve the workplace, and they make it known that anyone can drop by for advice.

Deal with Injuries

When someone gets hurt, a health and safety manager may perform basic first aid and ensure prompt medical attention. This leader also works with other parties to investigate what happened, fill out accident reports, and monitor claims.

Manage Health and Safety Department

Health and safety managers oversee a team or department. They are responsible for hiring and firing employees, setting schedules, and assigning projects. Managers also attend meetings with other leaders, participate in organizational decision-making, and issue reports on their domain. When government inspectors come to visit, health and safety managers show them around and provide necessary paperwork documenting compliance measures.

Health and Safety Manager Skills and Qualifications

Great interpersonal skills serve health and safety managers well. By clearly communicating with staff, they promote understanding and correct action. On the flipside, managers also should be excellent listeners. A worker’s minor concern might warrant attention before it becomes a major problem, and someone’s common-sense suggestion could form the basis of a great improvement. Other factors critical to the job include:

  • Leadership - following every safety procedure to a tee makes a manager a good role model whom others respect
  • Teamwork - managers collaborate with leaders of other departments and foster an overall "we're in this together" spirit among employees
  • Attention to detail - health and safety managers are keen observers who know that spotting "little" things can yield big results
  • Organization skills - keeping investigations thorough, on schedule, and according to established procedure maintains safety and satisfies regulatory organizations

Health and Safety Manager Education and Training

Candidates for this position possess a bachelor’s degree or higher in occupational health, industrial hygiene, or a related field. Hiring managers place a heavy emphasis on prior experience and proven leadership ability. Health and safety managers often move up to the role of safety director over time.

Health and Safety Manager Salary and Outlook

The median annual salary for a health and safety manager, according to PayScale, is about $76,000. Managers on the low end of the pay range earn about $51,000 per year, while the highest paid make more than $106,000. Common benefits include medical, dental, and vision insurance; paid time off; and retirement plans.

Job prospects should remain respectable for health and safety managers. As noted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workplaces need people to keep up with new regulations on health and safety. Also, an aging population with many employees remaining active in the workforce for longer periods of time presents unique challenges for maintaining a safe environment.

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Helpful Resources

Can you picture yourself making a career of helping workplaces stay safe? For further information on becoming a health and safety manager, see the following sources:

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

OSHA's website, published by the Department of Labor, provides information on training, compliance, and other subjects vital to creating a safe workplace

Safety, Health, Environmental, Risk, and Community Management

join this LinkedIn group to connect with more than 17,000 people interested in this industry

Management Principles for Safety and Occupational Health Managers

one reviewer praises this book as "a workable blueprint for safety managers." The author's insights, gained from 20 years in the industry, provide practical, timesaving strategies for managers at any stage of their career

Safety Culture: An Innovative Leadership Approach

how do you create an environment in which everyone takes workplace safety seriously? The authors of this text present plenty of ideas on developing such an atmosphere

Occupational Safety and Health for Technologists, Engineers, and Managers

the ninth edition of this book thoroughly covers current OSHA standards and other topics of importance to health and safety managers

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