Career Spotlight: Safety Coordinator
According to Payscale.com, a safety coordinator is someone who supervises the safety of a company’s workers. The position requires in-depth knowledge of legal safety requirements as well as the ability to implement and monitor programs to make sure these requirements are met.
Safety coordinators work in many different industries. Specialized job titles include construction safety coordinator, field safety coordinator, fire safety coordinator, and public safety coordinator, among others. Each of these occupational health and safety careers requires general safety coordination skills along with industry-specific knowledge, such as equipment/machinery features and relevant Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules.
While industry-specific knowledge can often be acquired on the job, a background in general safety coordination is a necessary foundation for all candidates. Eastern Kentucky University’s bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety provides this background and positions graduates for success in the field of safety coordination.
What Safety Coordinators Do
A safety coordinator’s overriding responsibility is to ensure the safety of workers and, by doing so, to reduce a company’s safety-related costs. According to OSHA, U.S. employers pay out nearly $1 billion per week in direct workers’ compensation costs, including property damage, medical costs, rehabilitation costs, and payments made to injured employees for their lost earnings. Employers also incur costs to recruit and train people to replace injured workers. An effective safety coordinator can vastly decrease a company’s chances of incurring these expenses.
According to business writer Leigh Ann Morgan of the Houston Chronicle, safety coordinator duties fall into five primary areas:
Safety coordinators work with executives, supervisors, and employees to create policies to protect employer property and keep employees safe. Through these policies, safety coordinators are responsible for clearly communicating:
- Expectations of managers, supervisors, and employees with regard to safety
- Hazard reporting processes, accident investigation procedures, and basic safety rules
- Guidelines for safety committees and/or regular safety meetings
OSHA requires employers to provide both general and industry-specific safety training. The safety coordinator’s duties include:
- Developing and delivering this type of training
- Documenting that employees have completed the required training
- Administering post-training tests, if needed
- Soliciting and reviewing training feedback from employees
Regular safety inspections can identify and correct workplace hazards before they cause accidents. A safety coordinator may be asked to carry out such inspections. During an inspection, the safety coordinator may:
- Determine whether any employees are using unsafe practices and may need more training
- Look for hazards such as locked fire doors, blocked exits, wet floors, and loose floor tiles
- Ensure that first-aid kits are well-stocked
- Make sure that fire extinguishers are in working order and easily accessible
If, despite all precautions, an accident does occur in the workplace, the safety coordinator conducts an investigation. Steps in the investigation may include:
- Determining the cause of the accident
- Determining whether the employees involved were following established safety policies or government safety regulations
- Preparing a written report of findings
- Working with supervisors and employees to develop plans to prevent similar accidents
- Implementing such plans and monitoring the results
All safety-related activities require documentation. Safety coordinators must be good record keepers and keep written track of their activities, both for internal use and to meet government requirements. Documentation tasks may include:
- Maintaining records of safety training dates, attendees, topics, and other pertinent information
- Completing and storing internal accident reports
- Completing mandatory OSHA paperwork in case of work-related injuries and illnesses
- Creating a system to ensure that all safety-related paperwork is stored appropriately and in a readily accessible manner
Salary and Job Outlook
Becoming a safety coordinator requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in safety science or a related discipline. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that occupational health and safety specialists are expected to experience an 8 percent growth in jobs between 2016 and 2026.
According to Payscale.com, the median pay for safety coordinators as of March 2019 was $52,321, with an overall range of $37,255 to $77,205. Factors contributing to individual pay rates include education, certifications, additional skills or areas of specialization, and years of experience. Career advancement for the typical safety coordinator often leads to becoming a safety manager or a safety director; median salaries in these positions may be $15,000 to $21,000 higher, respectively.
Eastern Kentucky University’s Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety Program
Eastern Kentucky University’s online bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety program is designed to show students how to identify safety risks and potential areas of improvement in construction and manufacturing operations. This degree can be a stepping stone to a position as a safety coordinator or many other occupational health and safety careers.
Industry-experienced safety professionals guide students through occupational safety courses, covering modern trends in employee engagement and the establishment of a safety culture in the workplace. For more information, contact EKU today.
Safety coordinator definition – PayScale.com
Specialized job titles – PayScale.com
Worker’s compensation impacts – OSHA
Safety coordinator duties – Houston Chronicle
Job growth outlook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Degree requirements and pay scales – PayScale.com