Safety engineering is one of the most important and in demand field in engineering industry. Safety engineers are expected to protect the general public as well as the environment from deterioration, illnesses and injuries that may be cause by technological, mechanical, industrial, chemical and scientific advancement the world is currently facing. Because safety is very much required in all aspects and disciplines of general engineering services, safety engineers will sure have positions in projects whether it is for government or for private sectors and engineering firms. The primary objective of safety engineering is to reduce the risk of mechanical failures, operator errors and environmental effects to manageable and acceptable level. Hence, safety engineers are required to have background and full knowledge of risk management and designing safety designs and applications.
Safety Engineers on the Move
One may find safety engineers working together with other professionals of the same industry like chemical engineers, mechanical engineers, architects, landscape designers, industrial engineers, geodetic engineers, environmental engineers and electronics and communications engineers. Together, they strive to make the working environment safe and free of risks and failures. They can also be found on sites doing surveys and testing for the maximum strength, strain and endurances of buildings and infrastructures being built. Moreover, other than mechanical works and whatnots, their nature of work also includes studying the potential hazards that may occur whenever there is misuse of products available in the market. Hence, they are also referred to as product safety engineers.
Other tasks of safety engineers include:
- Anticipating risks and managing them all the time.
- Conducting research to evaluate safety of products,
- Developing hazard free designs, programs and procedures.
- Measuring and auditing effectiveness of hazard control facilities.
- Participating in the actual construction to monitor personnel’s compliance to safety precautions and programs.
- Conducting real-time testing of products and participating in mechanical testing of buildings and infrastructures.
- Drafting future safety plan based on the real-time testing conducted.
- Evaluating compliance of building owners and third party service providers like subcontractor’s compliance to the prevailing building codes and ethics.
- In case of failures, reports incident based on the actual findings of investigation.
- Governs the overall safety of the working environment as well as the welfare of the workers and staff.
Academic Requirements of Safety Engineers
In safety engineering, there can be a lot of fields to choose from. Because of the necessity of in-house safety engineer in all kinds of firms and manufacturing industry, job vacancies branches out like abundantly. Fortunately, in studying safety engineering, all these aspects are being brought up into class discussions as well as in practical training and hands-on exercises. Aspiring safety engineers are subjected to trainings to sharpen their technical skills needed in their chosen filed.
Bachelor of Science in Safety Engineering, however, is not available in all major universities and colleges. Instead, one may opt to take the following courses and still get all the principles and required and essential skills a safety engineer must have:
- Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety and Health
- Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering
- Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering
- Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering
- Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology major in Fire and Safety Engineering
These courses cover all the basics of safety engineering. Depending on the university or college, safety engineering is offered within these traditional engineering in a very detailed manner. And for the convenience of the students, they can also enroll themselves in a distance learning programs where physical appearance to the school is not necessary. Distance learning, also called Open University, is an online educational program where students are to take lessons online as well as taking exams and submitting projects and technical reports.
Though online, the units that must be credited to graduate from these courses is just the same as the units taken up by regular students. Formal education is being offered but does not require personal submissions of projects and taking up of examinations.
Major areas that should be covered by traditional engineering courses to be considered are:
- Statistics and Accident Analysis
- Safety Procedure and Behavioral Model
- Safety Audit And Management
- Safe Maintenance of Equipment
- Safety In Operation
- Industrial Health And Hygiene
- Ergonomics And Physiology
- Hazard Identification Techniques
- Rules, Regulations And Circulars
- Management And Reliability Engineering
- Disaster Management
- Safety in Food Processing
Schools that offer safety engineering related courses not only offer bachelor’s degree but some school offers master’s and doctor’s degree for that matter. Both applies for regular academic set up and for online and distance learning. As for the state of Texas, here are top performing schools to be considered.
- Texas A&M University
- The University of Texas at Austin
- Rice University
- Dwight Look College
Technical Skills Requirements
As an engineer, safety engineers must at least have strong fundamental knowledge of all general engineering and applied sciences aspects. These include mathematics, physics, chemistry, analytical geometry, engineering mechanics, computer science, business communication, industrial processes and laws and government. As for technical skills, they are expected to give a professional and high-quality services like designing of engineering hazard controls, system and process safety, accident investigation and analysis, safety and health program management, construction safety and measurement of safety performance. Professional safety engineers can also be educators and give trainings to more aspiring safety engineers.
Job Outlook and Salary of Safety Engineers
The expected average pay of safety engineers ranges from $60,000 to $75,000 annually. They make about $36 per hour and works regularly, meaning 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. They are well compensated and expect salary increase annually depending on the company they are employed at. On some instances, some safety engineers that are part of head team require staying on site overtime to monitor the safety of the working environment.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is about 13% growth on the field of safety engineering for year 2010 to year 2020. This is about as fast as the average growth with respect to the other occupations.