Health and safety officer

Health and safety is very important in the NHSHealth and safety officers aim to minimise risks to patients, staff and visitors.

This page has information on the role of a health and safety officer in the NHS, including entry requirements and skills needed. 

Working life 

They are responsible for the health and safety of everyone who works in, or uses, the NHS in hospitals, health centres and headquarters buildings.

Working as a health and safety officer, you will look at all aspects of health and safety including

  • infection control
  • safeguarding children and vulnerable adults
  • dealing with hazardous substances
  • violence and abusive behaviour
  • manual handling (lifting, carrying, etc)
  • food hygiene

Health and safety officers

  • inspect buildings
  • draw up health and safety policies and procedures
  • train staff
  • ensure that staff follow procedures
  • investigate health and safety incidents and accidents

Where will I work?

You will be based in an office which may be in a hospital or in a headquarters building. You will spend a lot of time around hospital wards, departments and clinics. You may also visit other NHS sites such as health centres.

Who will I work with?

You'll often work in a team with a health and safety manager and one or more health and safety advisers (or technicians). Your team is supported by assistants, clerks and other admin staff.

You will work closely with fire safety officers and security staff as well as estates managers. You may have contact with healthcare and other staff at all levels. You will usually have little or no contact with patients.

Entry requirements 

Health and safety officers have a qualification in health and safety. To join the NHS as a health and safety officer you often need a degree level qualification. This could be, for example,

  • the International Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety from NEBOSH. There are no set entry requirements but you are expected to have some knowledge of health and safety and/or the NEBOSH General Certificate
  • the National Compliance and Risk Qualifications (NCRQ) level 6 Diploma in Applied Health and Safety. You'll usually need level 3 qualifications to get onto this degree-level programme
  • a relevant degree such as environmental health or occupational safety and health
  • a postgraduate diploma or Masters

Degree courses are three years full time. To get onto a relevant degree course you usually need

  • two or three A levels along with up to five GCSEs (grades A-C), including English, maths and science

or alternative qualifications, including

  • BTEC, HND or HNC
  • relevant NVQ
  • access course
  • equivalent Scottish or Irish qualifications

To get onto a postgraduate course you usually need an honours degree, a NEBOSH qualification or professional experience.

However, each institution sets its own entry requirements, so it’s important to check carefully.

Skills needed

Health and safety officers need to be

  • interested in health and safety
  • willing to follow procedures
  • able to train staff at all levels
  • able to prioritise
  • willing to work under pressure
  • calm in stressful situations
  • report writing skills
  • time management skills
  • good planning and organisational skills

Training and development 

When you join the NHS as a health and safety officer you will have training to introduce you to the department and its systems and procedures. Your employer will expect you to keep your skills and knowledge up to date by attending short courses on particular topics such as accident investigation or risk management.

You may be encouraged to take further qualifications and may have the opportunity to do an apprenticeship.

Health and safety officers can become members of the Institution of Occupational Health and Safety (IOSH). They can apply for chartered status with IOSH. Chartered safety and health practitioners have to keep their skills and knowledge up to date with annual CPD (continuing professional development). IOSH runs courses, conferences and seminars where staff can update their skills and network with others.

Other roles that may interest you

Make a comment or report a problem with this page

Help us improve