Safety engineers ensure the well-being of people and property. These professionals combine knowledge of an engineering discipline, as well as health or safety regulations related to their discipline to keep work environments, building and people safe from harm. The work of safety engineers helps their employers lower costs of insurance and comply with laws and regulations related to health and safety.
A bachelor’s degree in an engineering discipline from an educational program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology is the general requirement for becoming a safety engineer. Some accredited programs result in a bachelor’s degree in occupational safety and environmental health. Obtaining credentials administered by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals can also increase employment opportunities.
The field of safety engineering is broad. Safety engineers often specialize in a specific industry or discipline such as industrial, product, systems, health, occupational or environmental safety. While safety engineers in the industrial field ensure manufacturing equipment and facilities are safe, those who work in the occupational safety discipline ensure work environments are safe for employees. Product safety engineers help with the design of products and investigate problems with products to ensure they are safe to use. Those who work in the environmental safety discipline inspect and improve things such as air and water quality.
Safety engineers develop policies to ensure safety of an environment, its customers and employees. They inspect equipment, environments and buildings to indentify areas that can potentially cause health and safety hazards. Safety engineers stay abreast of new laws and regulations regarding health and safety, and make the appropriate changes for their employer. They also investigate accidents and injuries, then recommend improvements to safety policies and programs.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 13 percent growth for health and safety inspectors through 2020. These professionals work in a variety of industries such as manufacturing, construction, government, and consulting. Employment is expected to increase in fields such as software safety and health care safety. Among more than 23,000 health and safety engineers employed in 2011, the average salary was $78,540 per year, according to the BLS.
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