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Occupational health and safety technicians collect data on the health and safety conditions of the workplace. Technicians work with occupational health and safety specialists in conducting tests and measuring hazards to help prevent harm to workers, property, the environment, and the general public.Duties
Occupational health and safety technicians typically do the following:
Technicians conduct tests and collect samples and measurements as part of workplace inspections. For example, they may collect and handle samples of dust, mold, gases, vapors, or other hazardous materials. They conduct both routine and special inspections that an occupational health and safety specialist orders.
Technicians inspect workplace environments and practices. They may examine machinery and equipment, such as scaffolding and lifting devices, to be sure that they meet appropriate safety regulations. Technicians may check to make sure that workers are using required protective gear, such as masks and hardhats. Technicians also check to ensure that hazardous materials are stored correctly.
In addition to working to maintain employee health and safety, technicians work with specialists to increase worker productivity by reducing absences and equipment downtime. These actions save companies money by lowering insurance premiums and workers’ compensation payments, preventing government fines, and improving productivity and product quality.
Although all occupational health and safety technicians work to maintain the health of workers and the environment, their responsibilities vary by the type of industry and workplace they work in and the hazards that might affect the employees. For example, a technician may test the levels of dangerous gases at a waste-processing plant or may inspect the lighting and ventilation in an office setting. Both of these inspections are focused on maintaining the health of the workers and the environment.
The following are examples of types of occupational health and safety technicians:
Health physics technicians work in places that use radiation and radioactive material. Their goal is to protect people and the environment from hazardous radiation exposure.
Industrial or occupational hygiene technicians examine the workplace for health hazards, such as exposure to lead, asbestos, pesticides, or contagious diseases.
Mine examiners inspect mines for proper airflow and potential health hazards, such as the buildup of methane or other harmful gases.
Occupational health and safety technicians typically enter the occupation through one of two paths. Some technicians learn through on-the-job training; others enter with postsecondary education, such as an associate’s degree or certificate.Education
Employers typically require technicians to have at least a high school diploma. High school students interested in this occupation should complete courses in English, mathematics, chemistry, biology, and physics.
Some employers prefer to hire technicians who have earned an associate’s degree or certificate from a community college or vocational school. These programs typically take 2 years or less. They include courses in respiratory protection, hazard communication, and material-handling and storage procedures.
Postsecondary programs include instruction on standard laws and procedures; however, some on-the-job training usually is required to familiarize the technician with specific work environments.Training
Technicians usually receive on-the-job training. They learn about specific laws and inspection procedures, and learn to conduct tests and recognize hazards. The length of training varies with the employee’s level of experience, education, and industry in which he or she works.
Some technicians enter the occupation through a combination of related work experience and training. They may take on health and safety tasks at the company where they are employed. For example, an employee may volunteer to complete annual workstation inspections for an office in which he or she already works.Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Certification is not required for someone to become an occupational health and safety technician; however, many employers encourage it.
To apply for certification, technicians must have earned a high school diploma, possess related on-the-job experience, and pass a standardized health and safety exam. The Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) offers the following certifications at the technician level:
The Construction Health and Safety Technician (CHST) Certification requires the applicant to have specific education or experience in construction safety. These technicians protect workers on construction sites from injury or illness.
The Occupational Health and Safety Technologist (OHST) Certification is designed for workers who perform occupational health and safety tasks full or part time as part of their job duties.Important Qualities
Ability to use technology. Occupational health and safety technicians often work with computers and complex testing equipment.
Communication skills. Occupational health and safety technicians must be able to work with specialists to collect and test samples of possible hazards, such as dust or vapors, in the workplace.
Detail oriented. Occupational health and safety technicians must be able to understand and follow safety standards and complex government regulations.
Physical stamina. Occupational health and safety technicians must be able to stay on their feet for long periods and travel on a regular basis.
Problem-solving skills. Occupational health and safety technicians must be able to solve problems in order to assist specialists in protecting workers from hazardous work conditions.Advancement
Occupational health and safety technicians can become occupational health and safety specialists by earning a bachelor’s degree or advanced degree.
|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Safety Technician||Casey Industrial Inc.||Huntington, UT||May 23, 2011||$65,000|
|Environmental Safety Technician||CNJ, Inc.||Auburn, AL||May 28, 2015||$60,715|
|Laboratory Safety Technician||Brown University||Providence, RI||Aug 01, 2013||$43,250|
|Food Safety Technician||United Pulse Trading Inc.||ND||Oct 01, 2015||$39,653|
|Food Safety Technician||United Pulse Trading Inc.||ND||Aug 01, 2014||$39,653|
|Food Safety Technician||United Pulse Trading Inc.||Minot, ND||Jan 01, 1970||$39,653|
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