Pretty much all organisations are required to hire a competent person to act as a Health & Safety Officer, whether you run a large office where over a dozen people work each day or a small workshop where you repair furniture.
This could be the owner themselves who takes on the role, an employee, or even an external person. By having somebody in this role, businesses are able to comply with UK Health & Safety requirements. It also means that company owners can rest assured that they have done what they can to reduce health and safety risks in their workplace.
We explore the role of the Health & Safety Officer, Manager and Coordinator and consider the differences between different types of job roles that handle health and safety activities in the workplace.
Depending on the type of company or organisation, the title the health and safety officer has can vary. You might see a number of ‘officers’ while also encountering ‘managers’, ‘advisors’ and ‘coordinators’. Sometimes there’s absolutely no difference in these roles but sometimes the variation comes down to how qualified the person is and how large the organisation is that they’re responsible for.
For instance, it is common for Health & Safety Officers to have trained and qualified to NEBOSH certificate level. This will give them adequate experience for handling small to medium sized enterprises. However for larger organisations that may even have multiple sites, you might be more likely to find a Health & Safety Manager who has a more advanced qualification, such as the NEBOSH diploma, in addition to several years of experience.
This person will have more duties but they will also typically enjoy a more senior and well paying job role where they might manage other aspects of the business too.
For instance, whereas Health and Safety Officers and Advisors are typically more site-focused, working at an operational level for only one or two premises, a Manager may have a more strategic role, focused on systems and processes for larger groups of sites. A chain of cafes may have one Health and Safety Manager that oversees all outlets while only having one officer for a single cafe.
What Does a Health & Safety Officer Do?
The Health & Safety Officer’s role is to prevent accidents, injuries, and work-related illnesses in the workplace. This is their general purpose but what they specifically do will largely depend on the type of business. For example, those working in the food and beverage industry will have a very different role to those working in manufacturing.
While the skills and principles are somewhat interchangeable, many officers and managers will specialise in a specific sector. They will have a large number of duties to ensure that the workplace maintains high standards and, where needed, must create and implement policies and procedures in accordance with current legislation.
These individuals must also proactively work with staff to ensure that they are aware of policies and abide by them at all times.
Creating a Health and Safety Policy
If you are a Health & Safety Officer or manager who works for an organisation that employs five or more people, you must also create a written Health & Safety policy and ensure that it is maintained and updated regularly to reflect any changes to the law.
As part of your working role, you must ensure that each member of staff is aware and adheres to this policy. If certain aspects are unclear or confusing, then you’ll have to run workshops or one-to-one sessions to make sure that each staff member is confident in following the rules.
This side of the role also involves running regular inspections and reflecting their findings in risk assessments. If you identify any hazards or negligence from staff, you must address the issue directly with your powers as the Health and Safety Officer, or work with your management team to make sure people are made aware of these issues.
Getting Trained for the Role of Health and Safety Officer or Manager
Whether you want to be a Health and Safety Officer or Manager, this journey usually starts with having the right course and training under your belt. At Total Training Solutions, we can help you enrol on a range of courses throughout the UK, such as the NEBOSH course in Newcastle, Leeds, Liverpool or other Northern cities.