What It Takes to Be a Successful Health and Safety Manager

Any work environment that entails working with heavy machinery, with complex operational systems, and not to mention hazardous chemicals, requires health and safety management.

Health and safety regulations as well as environmental policies around the world are constantly evolving. Each industry needs specialised professionals that understand the ins and outs of such policies and regulations to help businesses operate safely and with the environment in mind. 

A dedicated HSE manager helps an organisation enforce all the necessary environmental health and safety protocols. The manager is also in charge of employee-oriented training and on-site procedures that focus on health and safety.

With so many safety manager jobs opening up across different industries, many professionals are eager to pursue a career in environmental health and safety. Let’s cover some of the most essential health and safety department responsibilities, the manager’s role, and what it takes to land a job as a HSE manager.

What Is an HSE Manager?

A health, safety, and environmental (HSE) manager is a position that involves a wide scope of responsibilities. It revolves around preventative measures that create a healthy and safe work environment both for people and for the environment, but it also includes all the protocols for risk assessment, management, and ongoing compliance.

HSE manager jobs are based on the same key duties, but if you choose to specialise in a specific industry, you can expect additional responsibilities unique to the field. Many environmental health and safety positions have numerous tasks and requirements in common, but management is distinctive in several notable ways.

What is HSE Management?

Health and safety management is both a hands-on role with a variety of day-to-day tasks that depend on the work environment, and a leadership role that requires plenty of delegation and ongoing evaluations. 

As an EHS manager, you need to be able to work both on your own and manage and supervise teams of professionals dedicated to health and safety. Managers in this department take on many demanding responsibilities, but they also need to be willing to learn and update their knowledge regularly. 

In HSE management, you are in charge of devising, implementing, overseeing, and evaluating all HSE protocols, and ensuring regular employee education and training. 

HSE Roles and Responsibilities for Managers

Every safety manager job description is adapted to the industry. But if you’re in the process of choosing the best path in health and safety management, here’s what you can expect from every job despite the industry.

  • Developing a robust health and safety strategy as well as its corresponding implementation system for the specific business. 
  • Setting up all the needed documentation regarding health, safety, and the environment for the organisation.
  • Communicating the necessary protocols and policies among employees and departments.
  • Ensuring regular education and training for all employees.
  • Overseeing the implementation of health and safety protocols, training, and the overarching strategy.
  • Ongoing evaluation of the health, safety, and environmental practices in the organisation.
  • Risk assessment, prevention, mitigation, and damage control in case of accidents.
  • Keeping track of any hazards in the organisation.
  • Ensuring legal and governmental compliance in that specific industry and region.
  • Work closely with the rest of the health and safety team to build and manage monitoring protocols and systems.
  • Regularly reevaluating policies and best practices to improve health and safety, as well as environmental impact, and improve organisational performance across the board.
  • Work outside the department to provide guidance and advice on health and safety to other members of the staff. 

These common health and safety manager responsibilities cover the majority of what the job entails, but they are far from everything that goes into this role. Be sure to do additional research and find a specific HSE manager job description in the industry that interests you most.

Most In-Demand Health and Safety Manager Jobs

You’ll find health and safety manager titles in many sectors, from construction, research organisations, medical institutions, all the way to oil and gas, manufacturing, military, and conservation. 

Health and safety managers jobs are sought after in all sectors, but the following are the most common HSE jobs you’ll find. 

HSE Manager in the Oil and Gas Industry

Occupational hazards in the oil and gas industry are specific and numerous, so health and safety positions in this sector demand extensive knowledge and experience. 

To become a HSE manager in oil and gas, you should familiarise yourself with the most relevant environmental initiatives, as well as job hazards and risks. Experience in keeping incident records and conducting thorough risk assessments to prevent incidents is also essential.

You will be in charge of developing, adapting, implementing, and monitoring the performance of all health and safety protocols. The job often entails travel and working off-shore to provide on-site guidance and employee training. 

Environmental Health and Safety Jobs

Most industrial facilities are in the process of adapting and improving their environmental track record. To do that successfully, they all need an environmental health and safety manager with in-depth knowledge of the most relevant industry policies that minimise environmental damage as well as employee exposure to pollutants and hazardous materials.

If you specialise in environmental safety, the variety of available jobs in environmental health and safety will make it easier for you to develop your career. 

Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash 

A danger sign on a construction site behind a fence.

Health and Safety in Construction

Managing health and safety in construction as well as environmental impact is paramount for any construction project. With height-based work, heavy machinery, noise, and so many potential risks of tripping, slipping, and falling, construction is a minefield of incidents waiting to happen.

Typical safety manager’s responsibilities in construction extend beyond the construction site and the workers - they also include the people in the immediate vicinity that could potentially be harmed should an incident occur. 

Health and Safety Job Requirements - How to Become a Safety Manager?

Although jobs in safety management abound, you should know that becoming a safety manager means devoting years of your career to gaining relevant work experience as well as education.

You’ll also find that different employers and regions list different environmental health and safety manager requirements. Before you apply to any safety manager jobs, check if you have the necessary credentials and degrees that will put you above your competition and help you earn a competitive salary, too.

Health and Safety Manager Education

To become a certified safety and health manager, you first need to have the necessary academic education. In most countries and most companies, a bachelor’s degree in environmental safety, occupational health and safety, or a related field is a must. 

It’s not a requirement in some instances, but it does put you at a significant advantage.

You can try your luck with nothing more than a high school diploma or GED, but candidates that have a college degree will often steal the spotlight. 

Certified Safety and Health Manager Certification

Just like college education, certification isn’t mandatory in most countries to become a health and safety manager. However, certifications are yet another way to showcase your credibility, as this is a field that is rapidly changing, with new rules and regulations reshaping how health and safety are treated in any workplace.

To become a certified health and safety manager, you should look for an accredited training institution in your country. In the US, for example, the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) is a great choice for those who want to obtain certification before applying for HSE jobs.

In Canada, the Board of Canadian Registered Safety Professionals (BCRSP) is a trusted option among health and safety professionals. The National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH) is a global organisation with a presence in the UK, making it a good fit for UK-based health and safety professionals.

How Much Do Environmental Health and Safety Managers Make?

Growing concern over environmental issues and greater focus on employee/customer safety has led to an increase in demand for HSE manager jobs. That also means that the typical environmental health and safety salary is more competitive than ever before, especially in industries that involve a fair amount of risk. 

So, for instance, a senior EHS manager in oil and gas will often get a higher offer than entry-level environmental health and safety positions in, for instance, educational organisations. 

Entry-level safety manager’s salary will, of course, be lower than what you can expect to see in the highest paying EHS jobs. More experience and ongoing education mean higher pay, no matter the region you choose for your career.

Let’s cover the average health and safety manager salary in certain regions to give you a better idea of what to expect.

EHS Manager Salary in the US

The average salary of a safety manager in the US can be $81,054 annually, or $28.85 per hour.  

EHS Manager Salary in the UK

The annual safety management salary in the UK is typically around £37,564, with a £13.25 hourly rate.

EHS Manager Salary in Canada

A typical salary of a HSE manager in Canada is around C$77,079, while their hourly rate can be approximately C$29.86.

EHS Manager Salary in Australia

Safety manager positions in Australia can bring you the average of AU$113,746 per year, and that also means an impressive hourly rate of AU$38.44.

Common Health and Safety Manager Interview Questions and Answers

When hiring managers evaluate your abilities, they also use the opportunity to check out your soft skills, your communication skills, and your “weak links” that might disqualify you for the position in their specific company. 

So, when it’s time to get ready for a job interview for the position of a health and safety manager, think about how you can impress them when they ask you some of the following questions.

How do you handle employee disobedience when it comes to implementing health and safety protocols?

Use this question as a chance to talk about a real-life example if possible, to showcase how you handle conflicts in the workplace and how you ensure health and safety.

Why do you wish to leave your current position?

Since most HSE managers seek new employment in the same industry or field, they want to make sure you’re also a cultural fit for their company. Use this chance to be genuine about what you’re looking for to develop your career and how you see yourself as part of their organisation. 

Tell us about your process in case of an accident.

If you’ve had experience with accidents in the workplace, this is your chance to illustrate your skills through a real-life example. If not, your capacity to imagine different scenarios and how you’d handle them can also help demonstrate your management capabilities. 

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

A piece paper with "My Resume" written on it, on a desk next to a laptop and a pen.

Writing a Good Environmental Health and Safety Manager Resume

This is a competitive profession, and despite the growth in demand, it will always be important to find ways to stand out. For employers, a well-written resume is a crucial starting point that can make or break your chances of employment.

Both for contract-based work and long-term engagement, HSE managers should be able to showcase their experience, certifications, and strongest skills when applying for HSE manager jobs.

While the process of setting up a good resume takes time and effort, many HSE managers and aspiring managers don’t have too much time on their hands. After all, developing the skills and knowledge for such a role is demanding enough even without the task of resume writing.

BuildStream experts can use your resume to build a brilliant, eye-catching profile on our platform for free, so that you can increase your chances of landing a job.

Have You Found a Suitable HSE Manager Job?

In addition to setting up resumes for industry professionals, BuildStream is designed to connect employees with the best employers in the market. If you’re currently on the hunt for a new health and safety manager job, make sure to keep an eye on our job board - we update our available job lists regularly to help professionals such as yourself develop your career in a more streamlined way.

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