To promote a healthy work environment, employers invest significant time and resources to minimise the chances of workers becoming ill or injured while performing their jobs. Environmental health officers are hired to plan, implement and maintain work programs that promote a clean and healthy work station for professionals, and adhere to government guidelines for workplace safety.
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Environmental health officers are experienced professionals who are responsible for crafting and implementing occupational health and safety programs for employees in their organisation. These professionals must make sure that program goals protect employee health and prevent workplace hazards and injuries. Duties for environmental health officers include developing policies and procedures for workplace safety, drafting company safety manuals and communicating the latest government regulatory changes. Environmental health officers also act as company spokespersons during government health inspections and hearings. Other duties include training employees, investigating workplace accidents, managing worker's compensation programs and flagging areas that pose as safety risks and create hazardous conditions.
Environmental health professionals typically have a bachelor's degree in industrial hygiene, safety engineering, industrial engineering or occupational health. To prepare for a career in environmental health, students should take courses in biology, physics, chemistry and geology. Classes that focus on hydrology, environmental legislation, fluid mechanics, hazardous-waste management and geologic logging are helpful for positions within environmental consulting firms, or government agencies. Some employers require that professionals hold Associate in Risk Management, First Aide, Certified Safety Professional and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiac Care Provider certifications.
Environmental health officers should have a solid knowledge of industrial and occupational safety fundamentals and practices. Employers prefer candidates with a firm grasp of local, state and federal health laws, and environmental safety regulations. Environmental health officers should have strong computer, budgeting, project management, mathematical and analytical skills. The ability to review, interpret, summarise and present technical and statistical information to various audiences, including the general public, is required. Environmental health officers may also be placed in leadership positions and required to train department staff.
According to the BLS, environmental science and specialist jobs are projected to increase by 28 per cent during the 2008 to 2018 decade. Health and safety technician positions are expected to grow 14 per cent during the same period. Job opportunities in the environmental science and health fields will be driven by increasing concerns over pollution caused by urbanisation and population growth. In addition, government laws monitoring water and air quality will also create jobs for environmental scientists and health specialists to create living and working conditions that are energy efficient and environmentally-friendly.
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