* About 22 percent of technicians worked in government agencies that enforce rules on safety, health, and the environment. * Technicians attend postsecondary school or enter the occupation through work experience and training. * Individuals with a well-rounded breadth of knowledge in more than one health and safety specialty will have the best job prospects. -------------------------------------------------
Nature of the Work About this section
Occupational health and safety technicians work with occupational health and safety specialists to help prevent harm to workers, property, the environment, and the general public. (See the statement on occupational health and safety specialists elsewhere in the Handbook.) For example, they might help design safe work spaces, inspect machines, or test air quality. In addition to making workers safer, technicians work with specialists to increase worker productivity by reducing absenteeism and equipment downtime, and to save money by lowering insurance premiums and workers' compensation payments, and preventing government fines. Some technicians work for governments conducting safety inspections and imposing fines. Occupational health and safety technicians take measurements and collect workplace data either for routine inspection or as directed by a specialist. Technicians often focus on testing air, water, machines, and other elements of the work environment. They collect data that occupational health and safety specialists then analyze. Usually working under the supervision of specialists, they also help to implement and evaluate safety programs. To measure hazards, such as noise or radiation, occupational health and safety technicians prepare and calibrate scientific equipment. They must properly collect and handle samples of dust, gases, vapors, and other potentially toxic materials to ensure personal safety and accurate test results. To ensure that machinery and equipment complies with appropriate safety regulations, occupational health and safety technicians may examine and test machinery and equipment, such as lifting devices, machine guards, or scaffolding. They may check that personal protective equipment, such as masks, respirators, protective eyewear, or hardhats, is being used according to regulations. They also check that hazardous materials are stored correctly. They test and identify work areas for potential accident and health hazards, such as toxic vapors, mold, mildew, and explosive gas-air mixtures and help implement appropriate control measures, such as adjustments to ventilation systems. Their inspection of the workplace might involve talking with workers and observing their work, as well as inspecting elements in their work environment, such as lighting, tools, and equipment. The responsibilities of occupational health and safety technicians vary by industry, workplace, and types of hazards affecting employees. Mine examiners, for example, are technicians who inspect mines for proper air flow and health hazards such as the buildup of methane or other noxious gases. Environmental protection technicians evaluate and coordinate the storage and handling of hazardous waste, the cleanup of contaminated soil or water, or other activities that affect the environment. Health physics technicians work in places that use radiation and radioactive material, helping to protect people and the environment from hazardous radiation exposure. Industrial hygiene technicians examine the workplace for health hazards, such as exposure to lead, asbestos, pesticides, or communicable diseases. Work environment. Occupational health and safety technicians work in a variety of settings from offices and factories to mines. Their jobs often involve considerable fieldwork, and some require frequent travel. Occupational health and safety technicians may...