Do you thrive in tense or difficult environments? Are you a natural leader and communicator? Do you excel when others falter due to intimidating or dangerous circumstances? People with natural abilities for navigating hard or perilous situations can find fulfilling and rewarding careers in the field Safety and Emergency Operations.
This area is made up of incredibly demanding but important jobs that can quite literally save lives, as well as meet other significant needs and do good for people, organisations, the environment, and more.
Safety and emergency response jobs can vary widely in type, location, and responsibilities. From risk assessment to environmental auditing and disaster relief, roles within this field can sometimes look vastly different from each other. However, they all share the same common goal: to reduce risk, mitigate danger, and keep lives (as well as the environment, organisational assets, and more) safe.
Here are three examples of different types of jobs within this area. Though there are plenty more varieties out there, this quick overview will give you just a bit of an idea of what types of roles are available in the field.
Career #1: Safety Officer
Safety officers are often employed by corporations or organisations. These individuals are responsible for a number of critical functions including maintaining safety standards, preventing dangerous or problematic situations, and responding when incidents do occur. Depending on the industry and type of organisation they work for, safety officers might tackle anything from environmental awareness concerns to managing highly hazardous working environments.
Safety officers often perform a variety of tasks as part of their roles. Some safety officers are involved in designing and developing safety protocols for their organisation. They are often responsible for ensuring safety protocol compliance, meaning that they observe and support employees who need to be following specific safety protocols and make sure they are following through on those requirements.
They can be responsible for audits and inspections, which often involve checking premises, equipment, or machinery for any potential hazards or problems. They can also be responsible for facilitating safety training or awareness for employees. Finally, safety officers are often the ones in charge of responding to situations or incidents when they happen, and conducting investigations later to incorporate learnings or better practice in their aftermath.
Safety officers are hugely important to organisations in a range of industries including manufacturing, logistics, shipping, environmental firms, service industries, government agencies, and more.
Career #2: Health and Safety Engineer
Health and safety engineers work within settings that require knowledge of engineering practices and principles as well as knowledge of health and safety protocol. You’ll usually find these role types within the realms of engineering, construction, government, and manufacturing.
The health and safety engineer needs to maintain proficient knowledge within a few distinct areas to perform his or her job effectively. First, he or she needs a robust understanding of the elements of the workplaces or processes he or she is responsible for overseeing. These could vary significantly from workplace to workplace.
They might include anything from large-scale machinery to vehicles, chemicals, industrial tools, and other types of equipment or substances. Next, that health and safety engineer will need to keep up strong proficiencies in any relevant legislation areas, compliance requirements, and regulations that apply to his or her line of work. These could include standards for workplace safety, manufacturing quotas or requirements, and other regulations the health and safety engineer are responsible for helping his or her employer adhere to.
Finally, a health and safety engineer usually need a background in engineering practice in order to tie it all together.
Like safety officers above, health and safety engineering jobs can be found in a wide variety of places throughout the corporate, government, and nonprofit landscapes. They can be employed in a wide range of industries. They are valuable and even vital assets for entities small and large.
Career #3: Emergency Operations Manager
Emergency operations managers often perform slightly different functions and work in different settings than the safety officer listed above. While safety officers are usually situated within corporate entities and are usually responsible for maintaining regular workplace safety procedures across various industries, emergency operations management usually entails different types of entities and protocols.
These are usually more process-oriented, are more readily found in spaces like medical facilities or disaster relief organisations, and are usually more geared towards preparing for unlikely or unforeseen events rather than working with the regular happenings and risks of everyday activity.
A common application of emergency operations management is creating protocols and preparing organisations for cases of emergency. One example of this is preparing a medical facility like a hospital to respond effectively and efficiently in the case of, say, a natural disaster. When organisations and systems have not been prepared for how to react in the case of an emergency, they can often be rendered immobile, ineffective, and at risk in the face of danger. The purpose of emergency operations managers is to help equip these organisations with action plans to inform their members, staff, and stakeholders of what to do and how to work together to mitigate risk and loss.
While the medical field can be a common place to find emergency operations managers, other industries commonly employ them as well. These can include government agencies and entities, school systems, civil service bodies like police and fire departments, nature preserves, tourist attractions, theme parks, city planners, and more.
Because disaster is unpredictable and could strike anywhere, this branch of safety and emergency professionals can be hugely influential in mitigating disasters when they do eventually happen.
This type of work can either be done as an employee of a single entity or as a consultant or member of a disaster preparation consulting firm. Emergency operations managers often write and design curriculum, oversee the design and installation of guides and cues in physical premises, conduct training for employees and other stakeholders, and more.
If you have an interest in teaching, keeping others safe, designing better systems and processes, or implementing creative ways to respond to high-pressure or disaster situations, a career in safety or emergency response could be a great fit.