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Occupational Health and Safety Expert

Overview

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 16 workers are injured on the job every day. Nearly 6,000 workers die from job-related accidents.

Occupational health and safety experts are concerned with the identification, prevention and control of health and safety hazards related to work and the work environment, as well as their prevention and control. They promote health and safety within organizations by developing safer, healthier and more efficient ways of working.

If you pursue a career in this field, you might design programs to control, eliminate or prevent health problems caused by chemical, physical or biological agents. You might advise organizations about using more ergonomically designed equipment or furniture.  You might conduct occupational safety inspections or evaluate how well employers adhere to laws, regulations or policies designed to protect their workers' health and safety.

To learn more about this career, watch a video about occupational health and safety specialists.

 

Working Conditions

Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians work with many different people in a variety of environments. Their jobs often involve considerable fieldwork, and some travel frequently. Many occupational health and safety specialists and technicians work long and often irregular hours.

Academic Requirements

Most environmental health practitioners earn a four-year college degree with a scientific major. Some states offer certification for environmental health practitioners who have a specified amount of work experience and pass an examination.

Because environmental health practitioners must work with many different types of people and report their findings, good written and communication skills are essential. It also helps to have acute senses and be highly observant.

Preparation Timeline

In high school

  • Take plenty of courses in math, life sciences, physical sciences and English/writing.
  • Seek opportunities to volunteer with environmental protection or public health organizations or businesses.
  • Design a science fair project that addresses how companies can reduce the risk of a specific type of injury on the job.

In college

  • Major in civil engineering, biology, geology, physics, environmental engineering or some other scientific area.
  • Enroll in a summer program or internship that focuses on environmental health or occupational safety.