Why you should consider a career in occupational health and safety

If you’re interested in a career that combines advocacy, education, and hands-on work, you may want to consider occupational health and safety (OHS). OHS professionals help protect workers from risks on the job by identifying potential hazards and developing plans to mitigate them. This article will explore what OHS work entails and why it’s so important.

What is Occupational Health and Safety?

Occupational health and safety (OHS) refers to the field of study concerned with identifying, assessing, and controlling risks arising from workplace activities. OHS professionals protect workers from hazards that can lead to injuries, illnesses, and death. These include physical risks (e.g., exposure to hazardous substances), ergonomic risks (e.g., repetitive strain injuries), and, increasingly, psychological health risks.

OHS practitioners proactively manage risk by seeking out potential hazards before they result in harm. This work is done through a combination of methods, including hazard identification and analysis, risk assessment, and the development of control measures. Once potential hazards have been identified, OHS professionals collaborate with employers and employees to develop safe work practices to help minimize the likelihood of harm or injury.

The Importance of Occupational Health and Safety

Workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities significantly burden individuals, families, employers, and society. According to data from the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada, direct and indirect costs related to workplace injuries cost the Canadian economy billions of dollars annually. What’s more, in 2021, nine hundred and twenty-four people lost their lives due to workplace injury or occupational disease. These incidents often have a devastating impact on many workers and their loved ones. For these reasons and more, trained and certified OHS professionals play an essential role in the workplace.

Discussing her drive to pursue OHS education, UFred alumna Kimberly Ann Valdez said, “I want to help people and mitigate risk so you can at least be safe at your workplace, or even in your own home, and be with your family at the end of the day.”

Why You Should Consider a Career in Occupational Health and Safety

In addition to the positive impact OHS professionals have on society and workers’ well-being, jobs in OHS are highly sought after and tend to be stable. The demand for OHS professionals is expected to continue to grow in the coming years as companies increasingly recognize the importance of maintaining a safe and healthy workplace.

Careers in OHS span many industries. Common career choices include working in government, healthcare, construction, energy, or manufacturing, however, almost any industry can present risks in which a trained professional would need to be involved. For example, office workers must take breaks to avoid strained eyes and bodies, while factory workers must be aware of potential hazards. As a result of risks across workplaces, OHS careers are found in field locations, office buildings, and rural or urban locations. No matter your interests or skillset, there’s likely an OHS job that’s a perfect fit for you.

OHS professionals also tend to be very satisfied with their careers. Research conducted by the Board of Canadian Registered Safety Professionals (BCRSP) found that 89.4% of OHS professionals are satisfied or very satisfied with their career choice. This level of satisfaction is likely due to the variety of available job opportunities and the impact these professionals have on the health and safety of others.

Beyond job satisfaction, OHS professionals are also well-compensated for their expertise. While it is true that location, experience, and job scope always impact salary metrics, according to BCRSP, the most frequently reported salary in Canada is in the $90,000 range.

Where should I start if I’m beginning my OHS education?

When looking for a starting point for OHS education, we suggest the Certificate in Occupational Health, Safety, and Environmental Systems. By completing this certificate, you will have completed the educational requirements needed for the Canadian Registered Safety Technician (CRST) certification. You will also have 450 of the 900 hours required to receive the Canadian Registered Safety Professional (CRSP) certification.

If you are looking for a degree program to serve as a foundation for further education, we also offer an Associate Degree in Occupational Health and Safety. This program was designed to provide students will the total 900 educational hours required to receive the CRSP certification.

You can find more information on the CRST certification here.

You can find more information on the CRSP certification here.

As you can see, OHS work is crucial for protecting workers from harm. If you’re interested in making a difference in your community and ensuring that people can go to work each day safely, then a career in OHS may be for you!