Health and Safety Adviser
This job is sometimes referred to by alternative titles
Health and safety advisers monitor workplace health and safety hazards, train employees on health and safety procedures, and investigate accidents.
Health and safety advisers with one to three years' experience usually earn
$45K-$65K per year
Senior health and safety advisers with five to 10 years’ experience usually earn
$65K-$140K per year
Source: Safeguard, 2015.
Pay for health and safety advisers varies depending on experience.
- Health and safety advisers starting out usually earn between $45,000 and $50,000 a year.
- Those with two to three years' experience usually earn between $50,000 and $65,000.
- Those with about five to nine years' experience usually earn between $65,000 and $90,000.
- Those with more than 10 years' experience usually earn $100,000 or more.
Source: Safeguard, 2015.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the figures and diagrams in our job information)
What you will do
Health and safety advisers may do some or all of the following:
- develop policies, procedures and emergency responses to minimise workplace hazards
- identify hazards and risks that may affect the health of workers
- educate and train staff in managing workplace risks, and how to improve safe working practices
- encourage workplace participation in health and safety procedures
- inspect and assess workplaces to check health and safety procedures have being properly implemented
- advise on, and ensure compliance with workplace health and safety legislation
- record and investigate incidents and injuries, and equipment damage
- help injured staff return to work
- prepare reports on safety performance.
Skills and knowledge
Health and safety advisers need to have knowledge of:
- health and safety legislation
- work-related illnesses and injuries, and rehabilitation strategies
- Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) procedures, and how an organisation becomes ACC-accredited
- international health and safety standards
- how businesses function
- the industry they are working in.
Health and safety advisers:
- usually work regular business hours, but may need to work evenings and weekends occasionally
- usually work in offices but in some industries are required to spend time at other worksites such as factories, farms and forests
- may work in noisy, dirty conditions
- may travel locally between worksites, and overseas to attend conferences.
What's the job really like?
Health and Safety Adviser
Health and safety adviser Marguerite Besier loves knowing she is using her skills and knowledge to help make a difference to people. "I really enjoy educating and training people, and helping them improve their health in some way."
Working in a wide range of businesses
"I work for a health and safety consulting firm, and work with a wide range of businesses. I get to meet many different types of people in this job, who work at all levels in a business and in a variety of workplaces – from sawmills to offices. One day I am presenting a case at corporate level for improving safety systems, the next day I am trying to persuade someone to wear a dust-mask."
Great communication skills are key
"The trick to working in this way is communicating well with people," Marguerite says. "You need a persuasive ability to convince people at all levels in an organisation of the benefits of workplace safety systems and procedures. My aim is always to help make even a small change, so workplace safety becomes an important part of what people do every day at work."
To become a health and safety adviser it is recommended you have a health and safety diploma or certificate.
Diplomas are offered by:
- Massey University
- University of Otago
- Southern Institute of Technology
- Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA).
Several polytechnics, industry training organisations, private providers, and WorksafeReps also offer health and safety training, and internationally recognised qualifications are available through The National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH). Massey University introduced a health and safety degree in 2016.
- EMA website - Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety Management (Level 6)
- EMA website - health and safety representative training
- Massey University website - Bachelor of Health Science (Occupational Health and Safety)
- Massey University website - Graduate Diploma in Occupational Safety and Health
- NEBOSH website - International General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety
- Southern Institute of Technology website - Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety
- University of Otago website - Postgraduate Diploma in Health Sciences
- WorksafeReps website - information on health and safety courses
Useful subjects include maths, English and science.
Additional requirements for specialist roles:
To specialise as a health and safety adviser in a particular industry it is recommended you complete further on-the-job qualifications relevant to that industry, or have significant work experience in the industry.
Health and safety advisers need to be:
- good at relating to a wide range of people
- able to remain calm in emergencies
- skilled at understanding complex information and presenting it simply and accurately
- good at problem-solving and decision-making
- able to work independently and in a team.
Useful experience for health and safety advisers includes:
- work in a trade that requires health and safety awareness, such as construction or agriculture
- a background in occupational health nursing
- work for the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC).
Health and safety advisers in some areas of specialisation, such as construction, need to be comfortable working in confined spaces and at heights.
They may also need normal colour vision because many safety systems are colour-coded.
Find out more about training
- Employers and Manufacturers Association
- (09) 367 0909 - email@example.com - www.ema.co.nz
- Health and Safety Association of New Zealand
- NZ Institute of Safety Management
- (09) 473 0857 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.nzism.co.nz
- NZ Occupational Health Nurses' Association (Inc)
- 0272735595 - email@example.com - www.nzohna.org.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Opportunities for health and safety advisers are good due to:
- demand for trained, experienced health and safety advisers in many industries, especially construction, agriculture, manufacturing and forestry
- the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's strategy to improve health and safety in New Zealand workplaces
- government and industry initiatives to change the health and safety culture in New Zealand industries after some serious accidents
- more businesses employing health and safety advisers because of monetary incentives such as lower ACC levies for organisations with a good health and safety record.
Shortage of trained, experienced health and safety advisers
The number of new health and safety advisers is insufficient to meet demand. This is because it takes a long time to train as a health and safety adviser, and relevant industry experience is important for specific roles. As a result, some employers are recruiting from overseas.
Types of employers varied
Health and safety advisers may:
- be employed by businesses across a wide range of industries
- work as consultants for health and safety consulting firms
- be self-employed, working on contract for several smaller businesses
- work in the not-for-profit sector.
Larger businesses in industries with higher rates of work-related injuries usually employ full-time health and safety advisers. These industries include:
- mining and quarrying
- Bateman, P, 'Show Me the Money', September/October 2015, (www.safeguard.co.nz).
- Fulton, T, 'Owners and Workers in Frenzied Rush to Comply with Workplace Health and Safety Law', 4 August 2015, (www.stuff.co.nz).
- Health and Safety Association of New Zealand website, accessed December 2015, (www.hasanz.org.nz).
- Immigration New Zealand, 'Immediate Skill Shortage List', accessed April 2016, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
- Mills, L, 'Plans for Pike River Visitor Centre', 10 November 2015, (www.odt.co.nz).
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2006-2014 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2015.
- O'Brien, M, 'Corporate Manslaughter?', July/August 2015, (safeguard.co.nz).
- Rigg, T, national manager, New Zealand Institute of Safety Management, Careers New Zealand interview, November 2015.
- Worksafe New Zealand, 'Hefty Fine and Reparation Over Speights Brewery Elevator Death', 11 November 2015, (www.business.govt.nz/worksafe).
Progression and specialisations
Health and safety advisers may set up their own businesses, or progress into management, teaching and research roles.
They may also specialise in particular industries such as:
- agriculture, forestry or fishing
- oil and gas
- processing and manufacturing.
Last updated 16 June 2017