Safety engineers minimize risk by developing safety and health programs, inspecting and removing dangers in work facilities, and dealing with unsafe situations when they occur. In this profession, the working environments vary greatly by industry and can range from mining to factories and even insurance companies.
As a safety engineering professional, you’ll be responsible for a wide variety of duties which will vary depending on the industry you work in. Safety engineers need keen analytical skills in order to thoroughly assess a situation and design a solution that minimizes any potential destruction or danger. Safety engineers are also responsible for coordinating work teams as well as incorporating the business needs of an enterprise when working through a safety project. You will be responsible for a great deal of paperwork, including writing reports and project plans. Responsibilities also involve training personnel in new procedures and systems.
Here are some more specific duties a safety engineer performs:
- Identify and develop solutions to safety-related problems
- Analyze specific jobs to identify potential hazards
- Test a company’s products to make sure they are safe
- Develop equipment maintenance procedures and plans
- Develop and implement safety procedures
- Conduct tests and perform studies using proven research methods
- Take emergency calls as assigned
- Investigate accidents
- Analyze data and make conclusions
- Travel to worksites, seminars, trade shows
To become a safety engineering professional definitely requires a college education, preferably a BS in science or engineering. Several colleges now offer degrees in occupational safety and health, which is also a good route to take. Currently there are 45 certified college degree programs in health physics, industrial hygiene and safety.
Areas of Specialization
There are a number of specialties a safety engineer can focus on, including:
- Manufacturing facilities offer a wide range of tasks and duties such as product safety, equipment maintenance, facility design safety, and overall plant safety.
- Insurance companies need safety engineers to review accident reports and help identify causes, trends, and ways to prevention.
- Disaster recovery can occur in any industry and involves putting together and implementing a complete disaster recovery plan, training personnel, and dealing with recovery if necessary.
- The oil industry hires safety engineers to make the inherently dangerous working environment as safe as possible.
- In the construction field, safety engineers are necessary to ensure that nothing is overlooked that could threaten the subsequent safety of the people who will inhabit the building.
- Federal and state governments have many needs for safety engineers to work in a variety of capacities.
Here are some of the kinds of opportunities you can expect to find as a safety engineering professional:
Safety and Mission Assurance Engineer (NASA)
Process Safety Specialist
Site Safety Supervisor
Construction Safety Specialist
Industrial Hygienist/Health and Safety Manager
Environmental Safety Manager: Waste Water
Environmental Health and Safety Manager
Occupational Safety Trainer
Safety and Health Solutions Specialist
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean salary for safety engineers is $54,920 with a low of $32,230 and a high of $83,720. In addition, the predictions for growth in this field are expected to be commensurate with the overall job market.
In addition to the credentialing organizations listed above, you can find more information about a career in safety engineering by contacting any of the following professional organizations:
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute of Occupational Safety
U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration
American Society for Safety Engineers
National Safety Council