- Environmental health and safety (EHS) play a crucial role in fostering a healthy planet and safe work environments.
- Careers in EHS are becoming increasingly significant due to heightened public interest in environmental issues and workplace safety.
- The scope of EHS extends to various sectors, including manufacturing, government, and the military.
- This article will explore a range of EHS careers, detailing what they entail and how one can pursue them.
Introduction to Environmental Health and Safety
The essentiality of environmental health and safety (EHS) cannot be overstated. From the air we breathe to the conditions under which we work, EHS impacts every aspect of our lives. It is the backbone of a sustainable future, ensuring the protection of the planet, public health, and employee safety across various industries.
From preventing carbon monoxide leaks and oil spills to mitigating workplace-related injuries and illnesses, the multifaceted field of EHS keeps evolving with our growing understanding of the environment and workplace safety. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there has been a significant reduction in workplace-related injuries and illnesses over the past few decades, and pollution levels have also significantly decreased.
Let’s explore some key EHS careers you should consider for an impactful contribution to a sustainable future.
Safety Officer: The Guardians of Workplace Safety
Safety officers are pivotal in enforcing EHS within an organization. Their job is multifaceted, including policy enforcement, regular audits and inspections, accident investigations, ensuring compliance with standards such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and training employees on safety protocols.
A bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety or a related field is usually required to become a safety officer, though some companies offer on-the-job training for applicants with an associate degree. Master’s degrees may be necessary for senior positions.
EHS Consultant: The Independent Adviser
As an external third party, an EHS consultant offers guidance to companies on mitigating health and safety risks and ensuring compliance with OSHA and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards. They help minimize a company’s environmental impact and enhance their EHS programs.
EHS consultants are often required to have at least a bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety, industrial hygiene, environmental science, or a related subject, along with some work experience.
Industrial Hygienist: The Protectors of Public Health
Industrial hygienists play a vital role in protecting people from hazardous substances like asbestos, lead, and radon gas in the workplace and the community. They anticipate potential risks and make recommendations to minimize them.
Industrial hygienist positions generally require at least a bachelor’s degree in industrial hygiene, chemical or mechanical engineering, chemistry, industrial safety, or a similar field.
Environmental Science and Protection Technician: The Pollution Detectives
These technicians focus on the effects of pollution on the natural world. They monitor the environment, investigate sources of pollution and contamination, especially those affecting public health. Most technicians work for consulting firms, governments, or testing laboratories.
Environmental science and protection technicians typically need an associate degree in environmental science, environmental health, or public health.
Environmental Health and Safety Manager: The Corporate Stewards
Environmental health and safety managers, described as the “environmental stewards of the corporate world” by the National Association for Environmental, Health, Safety, and Sustainability Management, ensure companies’ compliance with safety standards and environmental regulations. They typically require at least a bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety, engineering, or a related field of study. Some positions may also require a master’s degree.
Air Quality Specialist: The Guardians of Breathable Air
Air quality specialists protect the environment and public health from the negative impacts of air pollutants. They collect and analyze environmental data, develop plans to control air pollutants, and provide guidance on environmental hazards and health risks.
Air quality specialists are required to be well-versed with governmental regulations concerning air quality, such as the Clean Air Act, National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants, and New Source Performance Standards (NSPS).
The Future of Environmental Health and Safety
With the heightened public interest in environmental issues and workplace safety, the demand for EHS professionals is projected to increase. It provides an opportunity for individuals with varying levels of experience and expertise to make a significant contribution to creating a sustainable future. By prioritizing environmental health and safety, we can pave the way for a healthier planet and safer workplaces.