Health and Safety Engineers

by Kate Williams

What Health and Safety Engineers Do

Health and safety engineers combine knowledge of engineering and of health and safety to develop procedures and design systems to protect people from illness and injury and property from damage.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9gbU7KPAOg

Work Environment

Health and safety engineers typically work in offices. However, they also must spend time at worksites when necessary, which sometimes requires travel.

How to Become a Health and Safety Engineer

Health and safety engineers must have a bachelor’s degree, typically in environmental health and safety or in an engineering discipline. Employers value practical experience, so cooperative-education engineering programs at universities are valuable as well.

Pay

The median annual wage for health and safety engineers was $91,410 in May 2019.

Job Outlook

Employment of health and safety engineers is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. As buildings, products, and processes continue to become more complex and new regulations are created, these engineers will be needed to reduce costs, save lives, and produce safe consumer products.

Health and safety engineers develop procedures and design systems to protect people from illness and injury and property from damage. They combine knowledge of engineering and of health and safety to make sure that chemicals, machinery, software, furniture, and other products will not cause harm to people or damage to property.

Duties

Health and safety engineers typically do the following:

  • Maintain and apply knowledge of current health and safety policies, regulations, and industrial processes
  • Review plans and specifications for new machinery and equipment to make sure that they meet safety requirements
  • Identify and correct potential hazards by inspecting facilities, machinery, and safety equipment
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of various industrial control mechanisms
  • Ensure that buildings or products comply with health and safety regulations, especially after an inspection that required changes
  • Install safety devices on machinery or direct the installation of these devices
  • Review employee safety programs and recommend improvements

Health and safety engineers also investigate industrial accidents and injuries to determine their causes and to determine whether the incidents were avoidable or can be prevented in the future. They interview employers and employees to learn about work environments and incidents that lead to accidents or injuries. They also evaluate the corrections that were made to remedy violations found during health inspections.

Health and safety engineering is a broad field covering many activities. The following are examples of types of health and safety engineers:

Fire prevention and protection engineers conduct analyses and make recommendations regarding the potential fire hazards of buildings, materials, and transportation systems. They also design, install, and maintain fire prevention and suppression systems and inspect systems to ensure that they meet government safety regulations. Fire prevention and protection engineers must be licensed and must keep up with changes in fire codes and regulations.

Product safety engineers, sometimes called product compliance engineers, develop and conduct tests to make sure that various products are safe and comply with industry or government safety regulations. These engineers work on a wide range of products, from nuclear submarine reactors and robotics to cell phones and computer systems.

Systems safety engineers identify and analyze risks and hazards associated with system designs in order to make them safe while ensuring that the systems remain operational and effective. They work in many fields, including aerospace, and are moving into new fields, such as software safety, medical safety, and environmental safety.

For information on health and safety engineers who work in mines, see the profile on mining and geological engineers.

Health and safety engineers held about 26,400 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of health and safety engineers were as follows:

Manufacturing 27%
Construction 15
Government 13
Engineering services 9
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 5

Health and safety engineers typically work in offices. However, they also must spend time at worksites when necessary, which sometimes requires travel.

Work Schedules

Most health and safety engineers work full time.

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of health and safety engineers.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2019

Construction and Building Inspectors

Construction and building inspectors ensure that construction meets building codes and ordinances, zoning regulations, and contract specifications.

High school diploma or equivalent $60,710

Fire Inspectors

Fire inspectors examine buildings in order to detect fire hazards and ensure that federal, state, and local fire codes are met.

See How to Become One $60,230

Industrial engineers

Industrial Engineers

Industrial engineers devise efficient systems that integrate workers, machines, materials, information, and energy to make a product or provide a service.

Bachelor’s degree $88,020

Mining and Geological Engineers

Mining and geological engineers design mines to safely and efficiently remove minerals for use in manufacturing and utilities.

Bachelor’s degree $91,160

Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians

Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians collect data on and analyze many types of work environments and work procedures.

See How to Become One $70,480

For information about general engineering education and career resources, visit

American Society of Safety Professionals

Technology Student Association

For more information about accredited engineering programs, visit

ABET

For more information about the Professional Engineer license, visit

National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying

National Society of Professional Engineers

For information about protecting worker health, visit

American Industrial Hygiene Association

For information about certification, visit

American Board of Industrial Hygiene

American Society of Safety Engineers

Board of Certified Safety Professionals

International Council on Systems Engineering

O*NET

Fire-Prevention and Protection Engineers

Health and Safety Engineers, Except Mining Safety Engineers and Inspectors

Industrial Safety and Health Engineers

Product Safety Engineers


Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Health and Safety Engineers,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/health-and-safety-engineers.htm (visited ).


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