Construction Safety Jobs: Options and Requirements
Construction safety professionals evaluate construction sites in order to identify potential health hazards, such as asbestos and lead exposure. They ensure compliance with state and federal health and safety standards, particularly those enforced by the Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA).
Construction Safety Job Options
Construction safety technicians typically inspect and analyze construction sites to identify possible physical, chemical and/or biological hazards. They also interview victims of workplace accidents and hazards, produce reports and preventive guidelines for employers, keep a record or log of construction site activities and advise clients on proper workplace methods.
Entry-level construction safety specialists may be hired as industrial hygiene technicians and work their way up to supervisory, managerial or directorial positions. Site safety professionals may work in the public and private sector. They may also work for the military.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicated that occupational health and safety technicians, the larger category to which construction safety technicians belong, were expected to see 11% growth in job opportunities from 2012 until 2022, while occupational health and safety specialists could see a 7% increase in employment.
As of May 2012, occupational health and safety technicians earned a median salary of $47,440, the BLS reported, while occupational health and safety specialists had a median of $66,790 per year.
Aspiring construction safety technicians must typically hold a bachelor's or associate's degree from an accredited college or university. Majors pertinent to the construction safety profession include occupational safety and health. Common courses include physics, mathematics, chemistry, biology and engineering. Students may work intimately with heavy-duty industrial equipment in a laboratory environment.
Typically, construction safety technicians need to possess one or more OSHA certifications, such as the OSHA 500, OSHA 501 and OSHA 510. The OSHA 500 certification program requires potential students to complete the OSHA 510 certification course - which covers federal health and safety standards for the construction industry - and have at least five years of experience in the field. Upon completion of the OSHA 500 certification, technicians are authorized to teach a construction-specific course.
The OSHA 501 certification program is specifically designed for private construction firms and includes instruction on how firms might implement and ensure compliance with the regulations laid out in the OSHA Act. Upon completion of the 501 program, technicians are authorized to teach a general industrial course. This program requires potential students to complete the OSHA 511 certification course and accumulate at least five years of work experience in the construction industry. They must also hold a bachelor's degree in occupational health and safety, a Certified Safety Professional (CSP) title, a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) title or have two years of work experience in the field.
Safety technicians may also need to hold additional certification, such as the CSP designation, from the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP). The CSP requires that candidates hold either a bachelor's degree in any discipline or an associate's degree in a health- or environment-related field. Candidates may need to have at least three years of experience in the safety profession and pass one or two tests, depending on their career plans. These are the Safety Fundamentals exam and the Comprehensive Practice exam. In some cases, candidates may be exempt from taking the CSP exams if they successfully underwent training and testing through other accredited programs (www.bcsp.org).
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