female plant manager and inspector monitoring production process on site

An industrial health and safety engineer could...

Make sure that chemicals are stored safely in a manufacturing plant. closeup shot of chemical storage labels on drums Inspect machinery and pipes to make sure they can withstand everyday wear and tear. engineer
Recommend that additional emergency shutoff switches be installed to stop an assembly line. emergency shut off switch Check that employees are following safety regulations, including wearing safety gear. engineers with protective gear
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Key Facts & Information

Overview Think of all the jobs in the world that involve machinery, chemicals, toxins, radiation, loud noise, or travel to places above or below Earth's surface—all of these jobs carry an element of risk to the workers. Industrial health and safety engineers work to minimize this risk. They inspect work sites and help workers and companies understand and comply with safety laws. They use their knowledge of mechanical processes, chemistry, and human psychology and performance to anticipate hazardous conditions. Protecting workers requires excellent communication skills and a strong sense of responsibility.
Key Requirements Detail-oriented, responsible, analytical, with excellent problem-solving and communication skills
Minimum Degree Bachelor's degree
Subjects to Study in High School Biology, chemistry, physics, geometry, algebra II, pre-calculus, calculus, English; if available, computer science, physiology, psychology
Median Salary
Industrial Health & Safety Engineer
U.S. Mean Annual Wage
Min Wage
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) More Slowly than Average (3% to 6%)
Interview In this video, you'll see a day in the life of an industrial health and safety engineer as she conducts a safety inspection of a laboratory, advises a scientist on safety procedures and clothing, consults with other public health and safety teams, and gives a safety training seminar to scientists.
Related Occupations
  • Engineering managers
  • Landscape architects
  • Civil engineers
  • Fire-prevention and protection engineers
  • Product safety engineers
  • Marine architects
  • Mining and geological engineers, including mining safety engineers
  • Electrical drafters
  • Construction and building inspectors
  • Traffic technicians
Source: O*Net

Education and Training

You generally need a bachelor's degree in science or engineering to become an industrial health and safety engineer. It usually takes a minimum of four years to get this formal training. Some employers prefer to hire graduates with special degrees in safety management or occupational safety and health. Others look for people who have a master's degree or some work experience in a related field. Undergraduate courses should include behavioral, medical, and social sciences. A list of colleges offering degrees in occupational safety and health is available from the American Society of Safety Engineers. Many companies provide additional training for their employees. Industrial health and safety engineers continue to study new developments in their field throughout their careers.

In some cases, engineers need to be licensed by the state in which they work. They generally need a degree from an approved engineering college, about four years of work experience as an engineer, and a passing grade on a state examination before being licensed as professional engineers.

Other Qualifications

Industrial health and safety engineers often meet with clients, workers, and managers. They must be able to convince these people of the need for safety measures. In addition to knowledge of the engineering problems involved in keeping work areas and other public places free from hazards, industrial health and safety engineers need to have a good knowledge of management methods, safety laws, and industrial psychology. They should be good at solving problems.

In this video, you will see the many jobs where inspections by industrial health and safety engineers are critical to keeping the workplace safe.

Nature of the Work

Industrial health and safety engineers are responsible for keeping people free from danger, risk, or injury in the workplace. They develop safety programs to minimize losses due to injuries and property damage. They try to eliminate unsafe practices and conditions in industrial plants, mines, and stores, as well as on construction sites and throughout transportation systems.

The duties of industrial health and safety engineers vary, depending on where they work. Engineers employed in large manufacturing plants often develop broad safety programs. They study the buildings, equipment, procedures, and records of accidents in their plant, and point out safety hazards. They may suggest ways to fix unsafe structures or recommend changes in the layout of the plant. Sometimes they draw up plans for the regular maintenance of machinery or teach safe work habits to managers and workers.

Work Environment

Industrial health and safety engineers spend much of their time reviewing and inspecting on-site safety conditions and investigating accidents. They also have an office in which they analyze data and write reports. They may have to do some traveling to work sites, conferences, and seminars. Industrial health and safety engineers generally work 40 hours per week. In many cases, longer hours are necessary. Manufacturing plants may require some shift work. Sometimes, industrial health and safety engineers have to answer unexpected emergency calls. There may be some danger involved in their work, but safety precautions minimize this danger.

On the Job

  • Investigate industrial accidents, injuries, or occupational diseases to determine causes and preventive measures.
  • Report or review findings from accident investigations, facilities inspections, or environmental testing.
  • Maintain and apply knowledge of current policies, regulations, and industrial processes.
  • Inspect facilities, machinery, and safety equipment to identify and correct potential hazards, and to ensure safety regulation compliance.
  • Conduct or coordinate worker training in areas such as safety laws and regulations, hazardous condition monitoring, and use of safety equipment.
  • Review employee safety programs to determine their adequacy.
  • Interview employers and employees to obtain information about work environments and workplace incidents.
  • Review plans and specifications for construction of new machinery or equipment to determine whether all safety requirements have been met.
  • Compile, analyze, and interpret statistical data related to occupational illnesses and accidents.
  • Interpret safety regulations for others interested in industrial safety such as safety engineers, labor representatives, and safety inspectors.
  • Recommend process and product safety features that will reduce employees' exposure to chemical, physical, and biological work hazards.
  • Conduct or direct testing of air quality, noise, temperature, or radiation levels to verify compliance with health and safety regulations.
  • Provide technical advice and guidance to organizations on how to handle health-related problems and make needed changes.
  • Confer with medical professionals to assess health risks and to develop ways to manage health issues and concerns.
  • Install safety devices on machinery, or direct device installation.
  • Maintain liaisons with outside organizations such as fire departments, mutual aid societies, and rescue teams, so that emergency responses can be facilitated.
  • Evaluate adequacy of actions taken to correct health inspection violations.
  • Write and revise safety regulations and codes.
  • Check floors of plants to ensure that they are strong enough to support heavy machinery.
  • Plan and conduct industrial hygiene research.
  • Design and build safety equipment.

Source: BLS

Companies That Hire Industrial Health & Safety Engineers

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Additional Information


Additional Support

We'd like to acknowledge the additional support of:

  • Intel
  • Northrop Grumman
  • Seagate
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