What is Occupational Health and Safety (OHS)? Beginner’s Guide

The field of occupational health and safety (OHS) revolves around keeping people safe in the workplace.

OHS professionals focus on identifying and minimizing risks to people’s health, safety, and well-being.

They inspect work sites, enforce health and safety legislation, and make sure employees and managers are following proper procedures.

They also develop policies, deliver training, and implement programs to promote a culture of safety and wellness.

Occupational health and safety is often associated with sectors like construction and manufacturing, but it has much broader applications. OHS professionals can be found in every industry.

Keep reading to learn what OHS is all about and what career options exist in this field.

 

WHAT IS OHS?

Occupational health and safety is a discipline dedicated to preventing workplace-related injuries and illnesses.

It covers everything from machine safety and air quality to ergonomics and harassment.

OHS professionals seek to remove or mitigate things in the workplace that could cause harm to workers. “Harm” can mean a physical injury or exposure to something that leads to the development of an illness or disease.

OHS addresses an enormous range of hazards, including:

✅ Fire

✅ Machinery, tools, and equipment

✅ Noise

✅ Radiation

✅ Chemicals

✅ Mould

✅ Food contamination

✅ Temperature extremes

✅ Repetitive stress injuries

✅ Heavy lifting

✅ Slipping or falling

✅ Bullying and harassment

✅ Stress and poor mental health

 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO WORK IN OHS?

Working in occupational health and safety means reducing or managing the risks workers face on the job.

OHS professionals know how to spot potential hazards, develop safety programs and emergency response plans, and train workers and managers on proper procedures.

Here are a few examples of the types of initiatives an OHS professional might implement:

✅ Emergency evacuation plans

✅ Machine lockout procedures

✅ Hazardous material handling guidelines

✅ Fall prevention measures

✅ First aid training

✅ Ergonomic workstation setups

A career in OHS can also mean investigating complaints and accidents, enforcing government regulations, and shutting down businesses that don’t follow the rules.

Andrew Pugachev teaches the health and safety program at Herzing College Winnipeg. He says working in the OHS field means identifying hazards, developing risk control strategies, and ensuring compliance.

“OHS professionals make sure the company ‘walks the walk’ and ‘talks the talk.’ There are penalties for companies that don’t comply with government health and safety regulations.

Everyone within the organization is accountable to think and act safely: management, supervisors, lead hands, and workers.

Each one is subject to the proper training, education, and compliance—OHS professionals play a key role in this process.”

 

WHAT ARE SOME TYPICAL ROLES IN OHS?

Occupational health and safety is a broad field that offers a number of career paths. Examples include:

✅ Health and safety officer—Typical tasks in this entry-level role include inspecting workplaces, investigating accidents, documenting procedures, and delivering training programs.

 

✅ Disability or claims management coordinator—In this role, you would manage the claims resulting from workplace incidents and facilitate injured employees’ return to work.

 

✅ Health and safety manager—This leadership position involves developing the health and safety plan for an organization, supervising health and safety officers, overseeing training, and continually recommending improvements.

 

OHS professionals are employed across all industries. They can work in:

✅ Construction firms

✅ Manufacturing plants

✅ Factories

✅ Hospitals

✅ Educational institutions

✅ Restaurants

✅ Hotels

✅ Water treatment plants

✅ Government agencies

✅ Safety auditing organizations

 

HOW MUCH DO OHS PROFESSIONALS IN WINNIPEG MAKE?

A career in occupational health and safety can generate a very good income.

According to the Government of Canada Job Bank, OHS professionals in Winnipeg have a median salary of about $73,000.

The highest-earning OHS professionals in the province make over $113,000.

 

WHAT’S THE JOB OUTLOOK FOR OHS PROFESSIONALS IN WINNIPEG?

The Government of Canada Job Bank gives OHS professionals in Winnipeg 3 stars for job demand and growth—its highest possible rating.

And Andrew says the OHS field has a very positive outlook in the city.

“The occupational health and safety industry is growing and constantly hiring in Winnipeg. There is demand everywhere, including organizations like SAFE Work Manitoba, Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health, WCB (Workers Compensation Board), and COR (Certificate of Recognition).

In many cases, there aren’t enough health and safety officers to efficiently serve our vast province. So we’re certainly seeing strong growth in this field, and a lot of job opportunities.”

 

WANT TO BEGIN A CAREER IN OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY?

You don’t have to spend years in university to become an occupational health and safety professional. An OHS diploma at the college level is enough to get started.

The Occupational Health and Safety diploma program at Herzing College Winnipeg runs for just 12 months. It includes a 2-month internship at a local company.

The program is fully approved by the Board of Canadian Registered Safety Professionals (BCRSP).

Our students qualify for the BCRSP’s Canadian Registered Safety Technician (CRST) certification right after graduation.

The CRST is an entry-level certification that’s recognized by employers all across the country.

Click below to get further details on Herzing’s OHS program and chat live with an Admissions Advisor. We’re here to help!

Learn more about Herzing's Occupational Health & Safety Diploma