What Is an Occupational Health and Safety Degree? (Plus Jobs)

The study of occupational health and safety (OHS) is essential for organizations of all sizes, as it helps them to create a safe working environment and to ensure the health and safety of their employees. It is also a crucial component to efficient business operations, as organizations must balance their commitment to employee safety with their operational objectives. An occupational health and safety degree provides students with a comprehensive understanding of the principles and practices related to workplace safety, as well as strategies for implementing effective OHS policies and procedures. It is designed to equip graduates with the skills and knowledge to monitor and manage safety risks in any organization. In this blog post, we will explore what an occupational health and safety degree covers, the career opportunities graduates can pursue, and the benefits of completing a program.

The Northwest Center for Occupational Health & Safety – University of Washington

Courses studied in an occupational health and safety degree program

Degree programs in occupational health and safety prepare students for careers that involve identifying workplace risks, creating health and safety policies, and safeguarding employees. The degree level, the particular degree program, and the institution you attend are just a few examples of the variables that may affect the curriculum offered in such a program. Having said that, majors in this field of study typically focus on the following areas of study: The following courses could be chosen as electives or required coursework for occupational health and safety majors in addition to the general education requirements:

What is an occupational health and safety degree?

With a focus on hazard and injury prevention, an occupational health and safety degree is a academic credential in the area of the physical, mental, and social welfare of people in a professional setting. This degree type is offered at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels, frequently with different alternative names, such as but not limited to:

The scope of occupational health and safety as a profession and academic discipline is broad, but it typically involves three categories:

Occupational health

Occupational health focuses on work-related illnesses. Because they frequently house a large number of people in a small space for extended periods of time, workplaces can help spread disease. In a degree program in occupational health and safety, you can anticipate learning about how typical workplace risks, hazards, and situations can spread disease and how general and specific health programs can stop or slow it down.

Occupational safety

Occupational safety is the primary preventive aspect of the discipline. Understanding the causes of workplace accidents and addressing them is the goal. Maintaining safe conditions and carrying out tasks in the safest manner possible are major goals of occupational safety. Materials handling, materials storage, fire prevention, housekeeping, machine and electrical safety, safety inspections, and accident investigations are some of the key safety concepts that a degree program may cover.

Industrial hygiene

Industrial science is the study of factors that may cause illness, injury, or other harm to an employee’s health at work and that can be identified, evaluated, and controlled. In the best case scenario, workplaces make an effort to recognize and address such factors at various stages of operation, including during workplace planning, routine inspections, and after incidents or accidents. The main components of industrial hygiene include:

4 jobs you can pursue with an occupational health and safety degree

With a degree in occupational health and safety, you can find work in a variety of fields, such as manufacturing companies, academic institutions, government agencies, and hospitals. Depending on the level and type of degree you obtain, you might think about pursuing some or all of the following careers:

Occupational health and safety specialist

An inspector who monitors and reports on the health and safety conditions of work environments and procedures is known as an occupational health and safety specialist. These professionals frequently work for governmental organizations, manufacturing companies, or construction firms. They inspect workplaces carefully to make sure the environment complies with applicable regulations. They specifically search for elements that might endanger the employees’ physical, mental, or social wellbeing in the workplace. Additionally, they can train staff on best practices, implement or suggest new procedures to improve the working environment, and look into workplace accidents.

Health and safety engineer

A health and safety engineer is a specialist who uses their understanding of engineering, health, and safety to create policies or systems that stop illnesses, accidents, and other occupational hazards in the workplace. Workplace inspections to spot potential hazards are part of the job’s responsibilities, as are installing or supervising the installation of safety mechanisms on industrial devices, analyzing workplace safety programs, and checking equipment specifications for compliance with safety standards. They also have the additional responsibility of looking into workplace accidents to determine what caused them, whether they were preventable, and how to avoid future occurrences.

Industrial hygienist

A specialist who monitors workplace health and safety issues is known as an industrial hygienist. The work involves assessing potential or existing workplace risks, including ergonomic concerns, noise levels, air quality, and exposure to hazardous materials. They might perform tests to assess the level of risk present and make sure the workplace complies with state and federal regulations with regard to these issues. Other tasks might include checking the equipment and tools that workers use, instructing workers in hygienic procedures, and speaking with workers to better understand working conditions.

Construction safety supervisor

A safety officer who monitors the systems, procedures, and conditions at construction sites is known as a construction safety supervisor. Their main duty is to make sure the employees there follow the procedures and rules intended to prevent accidents and ensure their safety. The main responsibilities of the position include examining a construction site’s physical characteristics to spot potential hazards, checking building plans to ensure compliance with regulations, keeping an eye on construction workers as they work, and looking into accidents or rule violations that happen on the job.


Is a degree in occupational safety and health worth it?

A degree in occupational safety can prepare you for a rewarding career in almost any industry. Safety is a principal foundation of public and private workplaces. As a result, there is a constant need for occupational safety experts to assess various risks and put various solutions into practice.

Is occupational safety and health a good career?

For those who take pleasure in helping others, preventing accidents and ensuring worker safety may be a good fit. Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians held more than 122,000 jobs in 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and over the following ten years, that number is expected to increase by 4%.

What are the major fields in occupational safety and health?

Occupational safety, industrial hygiene, occupational medicine (OM), and occupational health nursing are considered to be the traditional or core OSH professions.

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