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Jobs in Health and Safety Offer Diverse Career Options

Dr. Jan K. Wachter is a safety sciences professor and PhD program coordinator at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Here, he answers our questions about careers in worker health and safety.


Dr. Jan K. Wachter

Safety Sciences Professor and Ph.D. Program Coordinator, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

What are a few of the advantages of a career in worker health and safety?

There is flexibility to choose specific safety and health careers aligned with one’s own interests and talents; for instance, a career as a construction safety manager versus a process chemical safety expert. Job options are limitless since most organizations need to have safety and health expertise due to regulations or their desire to protect their workers. Excellent career advancement exists.  Most safety and health careers are financially rewarding, intellectually stimulating and personally satisfying.

What are the challenges that a business faces in this area?

Safety and health requirements are numerous and often complicated, especially for diversified companies in global, shifting markets, requiring them to have resilient technical expertise.  Due to resource constraints, smaller organizations could have difficulties managing these requirements. Businesses in very competitive markets are sometimes challenged to overcome barriers to safety and health excellence, such as tolerating unrealistic production goals or allowing organizational changes to occur without first analyzing their safety and health implications.

What do you see for the future of careers in worker health and safety?

With the recent issuance of a safety and health international standard, careers will evolve toward supporting “management systems,” becoming more proactive, rather than reactive. Safety and health managers will become technical experts who plan and control work through efforts such as prevention through design. They will continually improve work systems from multiple perspectives, such as safety and health, quality and efficiency. This evolution will most likely require advanced education and training in scientific, engineering and business disciplines.

What advice would you give someone looking to start a career in this area?

Worker safety and health careers provide amazing opportunities for those desiring applied science vocations where job satisfaction is achieved by daily diversity of interactions and tasks. For additional insight, contact universities offering safety and health degrees and professional societies, such as the American Society of Safety Professionals. Also, read newspapers or listen to the news to see how far-reaching safety and health issues affect our lives – these examples provide clues to remarkable career possibilities

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