Health and Safety: Graduate Area of Work

Health and safety officers use their knowledge and skills to ensure a positive health and safety culture in the workplace.
The gradsingapore Team
Carmen Teh
Writer, gradsingapore

Manufacturing and production environments in consumer goods companies that involve heavy duty machinery and raw materials are dangerous workplaces, where risks of injuries and accidents are high. To protect employees in Singapore, the Ministry of Manpower have stringent regulations such as the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Act which employers must comply to.

Consumer goods companies hence have the responsibility to employ qualified and skilled candidates to ensure that the company meets the safety standards as stipulated by the authorities. Health and safety officers in this industry are responsible for developing, maintaining and protecting health and safety legislations.

Graduates in this role can make a big impact to everyone working in a company, but like they always say, with great power (to impact) comes great responsibility. If you are interested in entering this area of work, you’ll be held accountable for health and safety issues that may arise in the company.

Career Overview

Graduates in health and safety within the consumer goods industry carry out risk assessments and manufacturing site inspections on a regular basis to identify any potential hazards that put staff at risk.

As a graduate in this field, you’ll also be responsible in analysing and drawing up ways and mechanisms to reduce risks. This comes in the form of policies and strategies that are implemented across all manufacturing and production sites and teams. You’ll not only be working on things at the planning stage but right through the execution too.

Additionally, you’ll have to make sure varying teams from across the company’s sites are on the same page by providing health and safety meetings and training courses to all staff. In other words, you’ll very much be holding a leadership role where you are setting the health and safety benchmark for your colleagues to follow. You’ll have to communicate the standards clearly and ensure they are well adhered to.

You’ll also have to liaise with relevant authorities that regulate the type of consumer goods that the company manufactures. Moreover, you’ll need to keep up to date to ensure the company’s compliance with the latest health and safety legislations in place.

Required Skills

It is now more common for recruiters to look for graduates with relevant degrees to fulfil the role of health and safety officers. Typically, degrees or qualifications in health and safety, risk management, engineering, construction, business, management and law are useful when applying for this role.

You may choose to register yourself to be a workplace safety and health officer (WSHO) under Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower later in your career especially if you would like to advance into a managerial position.

Graduates should have excellent written and spoken communication skills as they are required to explain health and safety processes and standards to a range of people within the company. Negotiation skills and diplomacy are also qualities that recruiters look for because you’ll have to collaborate with managers across teams in the company to implement and maintain safety standards which may sometimes compromise the speed or efficiency of the working process. For this reason, you’ll also have to demonstrate that you can be assertive during times where you have to hold your ground to ensure your colleagues’ safety.

You should also be physically fit as your job may entail spending time on large-scale manufacturing sites and outdoor sites. Needless to say, you need to also have strong analytical, problem-solving and organisational skills in order to acquire and apply detailed legal, technical and regulatory information.

Pros and Cons

Although work is often said to be generally office based, health and safety officers will spend a lot of time in manufacturing and production sites, transportation systems, factories and sometimes the outdoors (depending on the business of the consumer goods company). Traveling during the day is common if you have multi-site responsibilities. Moreover, some of these sites can be noisy and dangerous or in cramped conditions. 

However, it’s important to remember that you are impacting lives by protecting your colleagues through the safety frameworks you’ve set up for the company. The significance of your role is vital in building a safe and healthy working environment for all.