Occupational Health, Safety & Environment Professional

Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects
Openings 5 years to November 2019: 10,001 to 25,000
Salary Range
Median weekly earnings: $1301 to $1700 to Source: Australian Government Department of Employment 2015
There are currently around 1,100 occupational and environmental health professionals employed in South Australia. Employment is largely full-time and most work in the public administration and safety industries. Over half of persons in this occupation are female and most are employed in the Adelaide metropolitan area. This occupation has an older age profile with close to half of those employed aged 45 years or older.
  • Occupational health and safety laws aim to make workplaces safer, eliminate fatalities and prevent worker injury and disease. Unfortunately, complaints and accidents, sometimes fatal, occur in the workplace and need to be investigated by occupational health and safety inspectors. It's also their duty to advise workers and employers on safety in the workplace, and to ensure that safety and health rules are adhered to.

    Some occupational health and safety inspectors, who are employed are legally entitled to enter a workplace at any time to ensure that a minimum standard of health and safety is maintained in accordance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act, 1984.

  • Of those currently employed 39% have completed Bachelor Degrees; 21% have Certificate III or Certificate IV; 18% have an Advanced Diploma or Diploma. With the increasing difficulty for some to find work, the education and training provided by TAFE SA gives prospective employees a definite advantage when applying for jobs.

    TAFE SA offers courses relevant to this occupation including the Diploma of Work, Health and Safety. Pathway includes the Certificate IV in Work, Health and Safety.

  • Employment opportunities have largely been dependent on staff vacating their positions. The low job turnover experienced in this occupation means that the demand has been low. However, an industry professional says that a large percentage of the people currently employed as inspectors are part of an ageing population, and over the next few years, employment prospects will improve.

    Occupational Health and Safety officers are also being employed in a wide variety of industries. Positions are now becoming available in management consultancies and large commercial institutions, such as banks, hospitals, insurance companies, government organisations and service-based organisations.

    They can also be self-employed and acts as consultant to firms and companies.

  • When an accident occurs in the workplace, or reports of unacceptable workplace practices are lodged, or investigations have been instigated by health and safety inspectors, there are some typical tasks carried out. These include: inspecting machines and other equipment in the workplace; checking that safety and health legislation has been implemented; ensuring that protective equipment is used in workplaces where this is required; and writing accident or workplace practice reports. These occasions also provide a good opportunity for occupational health and safety inspectors to advise people about how to improve safety in the workplace.

    In some instances, inspectors may have to issue a court summons to employers who have clearly breached occupational health and safety standards. As a result, inspectors may have to appear in Court as witnesses.

    An investigation may also be undertaken if a safety and health issue cannot be resolved between an employer and employee, or to check whether changes have been instigated at a workplace that has already been investigated.

  • One investigator says that excellent observation, analytical and interpersonal skills are important in this line of work. They were attracted to the occupation because they felt, and still feel strongly about improving people's safety. 'There's an assumption that you'll go to work in the morning and come home in the evening, and it's just not always the case. One person's injury or death affects so many other people. If I can prevent one injury, that means a great deal to me.' As in most other occupations, good computing skills are also essential for inspectors as they are responsible for a significant amount of data processing, word processing and Internet research.

  • The majority of an occupational health and safety inspector's work is conducted outdoors mostly at industrial or construction sites. They also carry out inspections in offices, factories, warehouses, hospitals, farms, schools, forests, aircraft and on boats - any place where employees or self employed persons work. An inspector's work hours tend to be from 8am to 5pm. Weekend and evening work may be required if an accident or emergency occurs during these times. It's not uncommon for inspectors to have to travel throughout the State conducting investigations.

    For further information, contact:

    National Safety Council of Australia (SA)
    116 Botting St Albert Park SA 5014
    Ph: 1800 655 510
    Website: www.nsca.org.au

    WorkCover Corporation South Australia
    GPO Box 2668 Adelaide SA 5001
    Ph: 13 18 55
    Fax: (08) 8233 2466
    Website: www.workcover.com

    SafeWork SA
    GPO Box 465, Adelaide, SA 5001
    Ph: 1300 365 255
    Fax: (08) 8595 2190
    Email: help@safework.sa.gov.au
    Website: www.safework.sa.gov.au

Further Information

For further information about all TAFE SA Courses, phone 1800 882 661 or enquire online