Updated August, 2021.
In 1976, Manitoba passed The Workplace Safety and Health Act. It laid out standards for safe working conditions, and outlined the responsibilities of employers to maintain those standards.
This move came shortly after Saskatchewan passed North America's very first Occupational Health Act in 1971—making Canada a strong leader in this area.
But, who is in charge of ensuring these laws are actually followed? How do we know if employers are abiding by the legislation, and punished when rules are broken?
This responsibility lies with occupational health and safety officers.
The role goes by several names. You will see titles like Health and Safety Inspector, Health and Safety Coordinator, and Health and Safety Specialist—but they all have the same goal: to uphold the law and protect employees' health and wellbeing at work.
What exactly does this job entail, and would it be a good fit for you?
Take a look at 5 good reasons to consider a career in occupational health and safety, and some helpful advice on how to get started.
1. Meaningful work that protects employee rights
Occupational health and safety officers make sure workplaces are safe for employees. They ensure management follows the law by conducting inspections, investigating accidents, providing training, and imposing fines when a workplace is not up to code.
Professionals in this role also consult on workplace safety, doing assessments and offering recommendations to improve working conditions for employees.
This career offers a direct, and very meaningful way, to improve the lives of people in your own community.
The work is important, impactful, and challenging.
2. Steady demand for health and safety professionals in Canada
The latest employment report from the Government of Canada Job Bank shows steady demand for health and safety officers across Canada.
Several provinces are showing a shortage of OHS professionals, with excellent growth potential over the next several years. Provinces with the most job opportunities in this field include:
- British Columbia
3. health and safety Training is quick to complete
If you're passionate about protecting people in the workplace, but don't want to invest years in post-secondary training, this career path is an ideal option.
Several colleges in Canada offer occupational health and safety programs that take just one year to complete.
For example, Herzing College delivers an Occupational Health and Safety Diploma that takes just 12 months, full-time. The training also includes a guaranteed 8-week internship.
A comprehensive diploma program will include instruction in the following areas:
- how to identify employee health and safety risks in a variety of work settings
- applicable health and safety legislation
- worker rights
- how to conduct a health and safety audit
- best practices in ergonomics, hygiene and worker health and wellness
- how to handle (and prevent) workplace harassment and violence
- how to develop a health and safety plan, and deliver training
- emergency and evacuation procedures
- how to identify and deal with environmental hazards
4. Option to earn your health and safety diploma online
Some colleges also provide online health and safety training, which offers students greater flexibility, without sacrificing instructor support.
This is an ideal option for people who live far from campus, or don't have time to attend classes in person.
Herzing's Flex-Ed program allows students to study completely online, or blend online learning with the occasional class on campus.
Either way, participants have full access to campus resources, like the library, computer lab, and career services.
5. A variety of work options, competitive salaries
Occupational health and safety officers work for all kinds of companies, in both the private and public sector. And of course, they inspect a wide range of workplaces, including:
- public facilities
- municipal water treatment systems
There is quite a bit of variety in this work, as health and safety issues vary depending on the establishment or institution under review.
Competitive salaries are another strong incentive to pursue a career in this field.
According to Glassdoor, occupational health and safety coordinators make an above-average salary in Canada.
High end: 94K/year
Is a Career in Occupational Health and Safety Right for You?
If you're seriously considering a health and safety career and want more information on training, we'd love to hear from you.
Herzing College offers comprehensive Health and Safety training at several campuses, including Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, and online.
This program takes just 12 months to complete, includes an internship, and is approved by the Board of Canadian Registered Safety Professionals.
Click below to explore the program in more detail and chat live with an Admissions Advisor. We're here to help!