In recent years, the demand for Occupational Health and Safety professionals increased as a result of tightening regulations locally and globally. This demand is expected to rise even further in the coming months as the world returns to work following Covid-19 shutdowns, as companies and organisations are compelled to ensure sites are as safe as possible for staff, customers, and other stakeholders entering their premises.
In a recent position paper on Covid-19, the Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) noted that Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) professionals play “important roles in helping organisations and governments to protect lives and manage OSH and wellbeing risks, business continuity and sustainability. They work throughout all sectors and for organisations of all sizes and types across the globe”.
Phakamani Mswi, OHS Officer at Oxbridge Academy, a private college that serves more than 20 000 South African distance learning students every year, says as opportunities in the sector grow, it is also expected that more prospective students will realise the value of studying towards and pursuing a career in this growing field.
“We’ve absolutely seen a surge in OHS-related activities recently, with governmental departments and companies recruiting health and safety officers to assist with screening, data capturing, and compliance monitoring,” he says.
“And as more and more people return to work and companies, and schools and universities open their doors, we expect the need for dedicated OHS officers to increase even further. In fact, most companies with more than a handful of employees are likely to require qualified and trained staff to look after these specialised portfolios, particularly as we learn to live with new ways of normal while Covid-19 remains a factor.”
Mswi says that duties of OHS officers can include the development and implementation of health and safety policies, outlining safe operational procedures, promoting employee health and productivity, assessing and managing risk in the context of occupational health and safety, performing site inspections and safety audits, investigating workplace accidents and safety-related complaints, producing health and safety reports, conducting in-house occupational health and safety training, and staying up-to-date with new developments in health and safety legislation.
“The first port of call for someone considering pursuing a career in OHS, is to investigate the large variety of job opportunities in the field, and then match that to a course that will give them a solid starting point from which to build their career because there are so many different roles and specialisations within the sector,” he says.
“Doing a short course initially is a good way to get your foot in the door and determine whether OHS suits your skills and interests because it will give you the knowledge and competency that is core to an OHS job role. We also advise trying to get some practical, on the job experience even while studying, as experience is a key factor in OHS hiring decisions.”
Mswi says for individuals who are able to think clearly, and who is detail-focused, OHS is a great career to pursue, as the possibilities for growth are many and varied, locally and globally.
“With the OHS sector clearly on a growth path, it makes sense for young people starting out in life, or those considering a career change, to give serious consideration to this industry,” says Mswi.
For further information or comment, please contact Sanet at Oxbridge Academy: 021 1100 144 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, please visit www.oxbridgeacademy.edu.za