The Run-Down on Working as a Health and Safety Advisor
The health and safety sector offers several different roles that can appeal to detail-oriented professionals with ample experience in workplace health and safety. While these roles share many responsibilities, they often coexist in the same workplace, while some employers prefer to hire one type of professional over another.
For example, health and safety advisors often work alongside health and safety managers and actively participate in all the key processes, from procedure development and implementation, to risk assessments and writing incident reports.
One of the greatest advantages of obtaining a degree and experience in this role is the fact that it is so crucial across all industries and niches. You can work as a health and safety contractor or find a long-term position for a single company.
Being a HSE advisor gives you a taste of working in the HSE department, so that you can later choose a more defined career path, or choose an industry that suits you most. Let’s go over the basics of what it means to be a health and safety advisor and how you can get better work opportunities in this role.
What Is a HSE Advisor?
HSE managers often take on an all-encompassing role that puts them on-site and off-site to manage employees as well as long-term strategies and protocols. Health and safety advisors tend to take a more hands-on role working directly with the staff on-site, guiding and advising on safety protocols when needed.
Health and safety advisors can be hired as consultants so that the HSE manager can delegate and share a portion of his on-site responsibilities with a well-trained professional advisor.
Advisors are equipped to work independently, but in some cases, a HSE advisor job won’t require as much experience as that of a manager. Taking direction from the manager, while providing oversight and guidance for other staff is often part of the advisor’s job.
In that sense, the level of autonomy and responsibility is the key difference of a health and safety job description for an advisor.
A Standard Health and Safety Advisor Job Description
If the project has a bigger health and safety team to begin with, you can expect your advisory role to overlap with others. While helpful, this means you also need to be flexible enough to work alongside other HSE professionals, look to the HSE manager for guidance when necessary, and focus on certain aspects of your job.
The industry itself shapes the scope and type of advisory work you’ll do, and to what extent you can rely on the manager for strategy-level supervision, while you focus on operational, day-to-day supervision.
Aside from those variables, HSE advisor jobs are based on several key responsibilities and duties you can find in any industry.
HSE Roles and Responsibilities for an Advisor
If shared with a manager and other HSE professionals, some of the listed advisory responsibilities might not be all-encompassing, but you still need comprehensive knowledge of all to succeed in this profession.
- Creating health and safety protocols and enforcing existing health and safety regulations specific to the region.
- Collaborating with other HSE team members to implement and improve the existing HSE procedures.
- Actively working with the staff on site to train them, provide support and advice on all matters health and safety, and ensure a secure work environment.
- In case there’s an accident, investigating the incident, creating a report, and working with employees to prevent any further incidents.
- Setting up an inspection schedule and conducting on-site risk assessments and evaluations.
- Communicating with all the relevant health, safety, and environmental regulatory bodies to ensure compliance.
- Work alongside external inspectors and investigators if needed.
- Creating and conducting employee training sessions as well as regular meetings.
- In case of an injury, make sure the workers in question receive the needed care and attention.
- Report to management on safety performance and provide suggestions on how daily operations can be improved through better environmental, health, and safety protocols.
In most situations, the HSE advisor job description resembles that of a manager, but the notable difference in autonomy and big-picture strategising makes the advisory role a good starting point for further career development. If you feel comfortable in an advisory role, you can slowly develop your skills and knowledge to one day become a manager in health and safety, too.
How to Become a Health and Safety Advisor
For an advisor, health and safety job requirements vary depending on the role, industry, and seniority. Not to mention that every region has specific HSE regulations with which you have to be familiar in order to qualify for a local position.
For some jobs and employers, academic education isn’t a prerequisite, but you do need to have a high school degree and an apprenticeship that has given you enough exposure to the health and safety profession.
Then there are professional training institutions specialising in HSE education, which can help both with earning a recognised certificate and landing your first health and safety advisory job.
Health and Safety Advisor Qualifications
The requirements for the HSE advisor role vary from one location to another, but most employers look for some or most of the following:
- An academic degree specialising in health and safety
- A minimum of a high school diploma and apprenticeship
- Internationally or locally recognised certifications
- Working knowledge of the most recent health and safety protocols and standards
- Health and safety legislation, especially related to your target field of work
- Internationally accepted health and safety tools
- Accreditation from the local health and safety governing or training institution, such as NCQR in the UK, also recognised throughout Europe
Soft skills, physical endurance to a certain degree, and a level of technical knowledge can also help you qualify for health and safety advisor jobs. Consider working on some of these:
- Communication skills essential to train and educate staff on health and safety
- Excellent organisational skills for managing your daily workload, but also for making sure that all other employees under your supervision are safe
- The ability to solve complex problems that can arise from high-risk situations and work environments
- Working under pressure, due to your crucial role in case of emergencies and HSE-related incidents
- A good eye for detail to decrease workplace risk and improve the health and safety conditions of a workplace
In-Demand HSE Advisor Jobs
Developing strong health and safety protocols is vital for every professional sphere, including medical and research institutions, construction, manufacturing, all the way to oil and gas. A HSE advisor is an increasingly needed role in all these and many other industries, to ensure employee safety and wellbeing, as well as legal compliance.
While you can find HSE contract jobs in practically every field of work, we’ll mention a few promising industries that are hiring HSE staff in various roles the most.
Work as a Health and Safety Advisor in Construction
Rapid urbanisation combined with growing environmental, health, and safety awareness makes HSE advisors pivotal for the success of any construction project.
Working as a health and safety advisor in construction means collaborating closely with the construction manager and other staff on site to prevent mishaps and protect employees as well as the environment.
In addition to setting the stage for safe construction processes before the actual work takes place, your advisory role lets you continuously monitor and suggest improvements to reduce risk.
HSE Advisor Jobs Offshore
In the pursuit of greener and more sustainable energy resources, more HSE advisor jobs are sprouting in sectors outside of oil and gas alone - but they still fall under the offshore umbrella.
For example, you can work as an offshore HSE advisor for offshore wind farms. Then again, there are numerous offshore military and navy projects that require plenty of HSE personnel.
HSE Advisor Jobs in Oil and Gas
Still, the oil and gas sector deserves a separate mention simply because they remain one of the industries with the most HSE hires across the board. Aiming to make their processes less wasteful and safer both for people and the environment, oil and gas companies actively recruit HSE advisor experts.
Environmental Health and Safety Advisor Roles
For certain jobs and projects, the HSE advisor responsibilities will be focused on environmental safety and preservation. This is far from a narrow specialty, since all HSE advisor jobs involve a range of duties related to environmental protection, reducing risk and improving efficiency.
Most companies are investing in employee education and training in terms of bettering their carbon footprint and improving their environmental impact, making HSE advisors useful even in corporate settings.
How Much Does a Health and Safety Advisor Earn?
It varies from one region to another, but you can expect a higher-than-average health and safety advisor salary if you boast years of experience and strong industry-specific skills.
In case you’re just starting out, junior HSE advisor jobs pay slightly less than what you can expect as a senior HSE advisor, regardless of industry or your location. Let’s break it down based on several key locations around the world where the need for HSE advisors is growing, so that you know what to expect.
Average Health and Safety Advisor Salary in the US
HSE advisor jobs in the US pay $76,332 per year on average, or you can charge around $25.28 per hour.
Average Health and Safety Advisor Salary in the UK
The median base salary for UK advisors in health and safety is £32,249, whereas the hourly rate is £16.00.
Average Health and Safety Advisor Salary in Canada
HSE jobs in Canada can enable you to take home around C$73,785 per year, or C$38.11 per hour.
Average Health and Safety Advisor Salary in Australia
Australian HSE advisors have around AU$82,939 as their average annual salary, whereas the hourly rate can be approximately AU$37.24.
HSE Advisor Interview Questions
Considering the scope of health and safety advisor responsibilities, it’s natural to assume that employers will primarily focus on your qualifications and experience. But as important as the two factors are, they will also want to see if your soft skills are strong and if you can think on your feet.
During the interview, some of the questions will be focused on more than your experience and expertise. Here are a few to help you prep:
Describe a problem you’ve come across in your previous job - and how you solved it.
No matter how great you are at your job, problems are bound to arise, so you need to demonstrate your ability to deal with issues when they arise. Provide a relevant industry example if you can.
What are your expectations in terms of this position?
HSE advisory is often a stepping-stone role for managerial positions with more responsibility and higher pay. Naturally, if you want a position that offers that kind of growth, this is a good moment to mention your ambitions.
On the other hand, many advisors want to change industries to expand on their existing skills, or they want to improve their current knowledge - whatever your expectations might be, this is a great moment to talk about your perspective of the role.
HSE Advisor Resume
Many of the qualities every safety advisor needs to succeed can help you in presenting yourself in the right light. As a detail-oriented person, you can customise your HSE advisor resume for every job you apply for.
This approach helps you emphasise the most relevant aspects of your experience and education that will appeal to that particular employer.
For instance, if you are interested in an HSE job in oil and gas, and you’ve worked on a wide spectrum of projects, some of which are in this industry, you can let your resume focus primarily on your oil and gas experience and the processes and solutions you created.
Aside from serving as a job board for industry professionals, BuildStream can also help you tailor your resume for HSE advisor jobs, at no cost whatsoever. All you need is a profile on the platform, and we’ll take care of the rest to make sure your resume is in line with what employers are looking for.
Kick-Start Your Health and Safety Advisor Career
Even if you’ve been working in the HSE sector for some time, giving your career a boost is always a good way to grow as a professional and find better jobs with competitive pay. Fortunately, market growth works in your favour, which means there is bound to be more HSE-related work in the imminent future.
BuildStream regularly publishes the latest, most in-demand health and safety advisor jobs to make your job hunt simpler. Start by setting up a profile for free, and look through the available job postings to take your career to the next level.