Australian recruiting company, Hays, has released its annual salary surveyin which it says that there is increasing demand for OHS professionals in Australia however the salary levels seem comparatively low, particularly at the entry-level. The survey says that the introduction of harmonised OHS laws in most Australian States has:
“…led to increased accountability and thus demand for high risk safety experts.”
It could be said that many safety experts have been “high risk” but the quote above places safety in a risk context. Safety professionals must be able to understand and deal with business risks in the broader context. In some sectors risk management integrates OHS but in others, where risk management is almost exclusively concerned with insurances and safety is the purview of a Health and Safety Representative, OHS is shunned as a foreign concept or a poorly under threat.
Hays writes that the harmonisation process has raised the profile of OHS generating safety compliance reviews in small and large companies and that
“At the same time, organisations have committed to up-skilling their workforce and promoting a safety culture. This has increased demand for OH&S training specialists, particularly in the e-learning space.”
This should be heartening news for OHS consulting companies that have a pool of broadly skilled OHS professionals on hand. Companies need safety professionals who understand risk, can train, can develop safety cultures and should be able to provide some of these service through computers or the internet. This is a tall order. Not only should OHS professionals be skilled in risk management but a good understanding of health and wellbeing is useful. Hays says:
“Wellbeing programs are a high priority for many businesses and major corporates are employing professionals who are dedicated to health and wellbeing. Employee assistance programs are also more common, adding to demand.”
SafetyAtWorkBlog has expressed cautionin the past on salary surveys but the Hays data on OHS salaries seems to tally with some of the data in those other salary surveys. Hays does not provide a national OHS salary figure but it is possible to provide the lowest and highest of State salaries for various OHS categories:
Coordinator 55-60 (A$ ,000)
Significantly, and contrary to the perception that OHS salaries are greatest in the States dominated by the mining and resources industries, the highest salaries occur mostly in New South Wales and Victoria. There are many categories in the Hays data and not every OHS professional’s duties will necessarily fit those categories. Variations will occur with return-to-work and environmental duties and others. The survey provides a useful guide to the base business costs of safety management. A company safety budget should be much more than just salaries but companies can expect that a fulltime safety professional will cost at least $A55,000 per year. Many sales positions apply a rule-of-thumb on expected returns for salary packages. It would be interesting to know if there is a similar ratio of return expected for safety salaries.