An occupational health and safety officer is responsible for designing and maintaining all safety and health regulations within a company. This can include anything from the safe operation of heavy equipment, chemical handling guidelines, or even just proper fire drill procedures. The primary duties of this person include designing safety programs, creating and maintaining safety forms, conducting program monitoring and training, and giving safety reports.
The role of a safety officer was created to comply with certain regulations put forth by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). OSHA is a division of the US government which is managed by the Department of Labor. It is designed to ensure employers provide safe working environments for their employees and meet various health and safety regulations during operations. The occupational health and safety officer serves as the liaison between the employer and OSHA.
Most safety programs in place within a company are created by this person. This task may be as simple as taking a basic fire safety plan and customizing it to suit the company's needs. It can also be as complicated as designing detailed safety programs from scratch for company specific practices, such as bio-hazardous waste disposal. The specifics of the various plans all depend on the type of business being run and what equipment, tasks, or materials are frequently used during business operation.
Once a safety plan has been created, the occupational health and safety officer is also in charge of creating or obtaining any forms related to the practice. OSHA provides several form templates with details on a variety of general safety practices, such as fire safety and workplace first aid. Other forms may include log sheets for recording machine inspection times, inventory control sheets for controlled substances, or even consent forms authorizing the employer to run certain background checks before an employee can be approved for specific positions within the company.
These officers are the point people for ensuring all safety programs have not only been created, but are being practiced. New employees must be trained on all the relevant practices and procedures in place. Likewise, current employees may be given refresher training courses on a regular basis to ensure they remain familiar with the more crucial safety procedures in the company.
OSHA not only puts various safety regulations in place, but they also monitor companies to make sure the safety practices are effective. The occupational health and safety officer is responsible for reporting minor safety incidents on a yearly basis directly to OSHA. He must also inform OSHA immediately of any serious safety issues, particularly those that may have resulted in serious injury or death.