Occupational Health and Safety Specialist  What They Do

Just the Facts

Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians Career Video

Reviews, evaluates, and analyzes work environments and designs programs and procedures to control, eliminate, and prevent disease or injury caused by chemical, physical, and biological agents or ergonomic factors. May conduct inspections and enforce adherence to laws and regulations governing the health and safety of individuals. May be employed in the public or private sector.

This career is part of the Government and Public Administration cluster Regulation pathway.

A person in this career:

  • Orders suspension of activities that pose threats to workers' health or safety.
  • Investigates accidents to identify causes or to determine how such accidents might be prevented in the future.
  • Recommends measures to help protect workers from potentially hazardous work methods, processes, or materials.
  • Inspects or evaluates workplace environments, equipment, or practices to ensure compliance with safety standards and government regulations.
  • Develops or maintains hygiene programs, such as noise surveys, continuous atmosphere monitoring, ventilation surveys, or asbestos management plans.
  • Collects samples of dust, gases, vapors, or other potentially toxic materials for analysis.
  • Investigates the adequacy of ventilation, exhaust equipment, lighting, or other conditions that could affect employee health, comfort, or performance.
  • Conducts safety training or education programs and demonstrates the use of safety equipment.
  • Investigates health-related complaints and inspects facilities to ensure that they comply with public health legislation and regulations.
  • Collaborates with engineers or physicians to institute control or remedial measures for hazardous or potentially hazardous conditions or equipment.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 10 lbs., sometimes up to 20 lbs. You might do a lot of walking or standing, or you might sit but use your arms and legs to control machines, equipment or tools.
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Exposed to conditions such as high voltage electricity, combustibles, explosives, and chemicals more than once a month
  • Exposed to hazardous equipment such as saws, machinery, or vehicular traffic more than once a month
  • Exposed to hazardous situations involving possible injury such as cuts, bites, stings, and minor burns more than once a month
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation requires being outside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves sitting more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Irregular hours
  • Overnight travel

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Public Health Inspector -- Examines and inspects public establishments, ensuring each is in compliance with public health regulations and laws.
  • Environmental Health Inspector -- Enforces environmental and health laws, conducts inspections and provides education on the topic of environmental health.
  • Food and Drug Inspector -- Inspects establishment where foods, drugs, cosmetics, and similar consumer items are manufactured, handled, stored, or sold to enforce legal standards of sanitation, purity, and grading.
  • Hazardous Waste Management Specialist -- Conducts studies on hazardous waste management projects and provides information on treatment and containment of hazardous waste.