Safety & Environmental Engineering explained

Health & Safety is a fundamental part of our lives today. Businesses are obliged to protection the health of their employees. We put systems and technology in place to mitigate human actions on the environment and do everything we can to ensure that the world around us is a safe place.

What is Safety Engineering?

Safety Engineers are involved in the design and implementation of systems for the protection of human health and safety of the environment.

While Occupational Health & Safety Managers are tasked with ensuring that the environments around us are safe for everybody and everything, Safety Engineers on the other hand, design environments, systems, technology, processes and procedures to minimize the potential for problems. Safety Engineers bridge the gap between engineering, R&D and health & safety to promote good practice – whether that is at our workplaces, at home or in the open environment.

Safety Engineers work “on the ground” alongside and consulting with health & safety trainers in the workplace to look at improvements and to explain the systems they have designed.

As engineers, they can work almost anywhere depending on their background and training. They are proactive rather than reactive, meaning they work to anticipate and foresee potential problems with existing technologies.

They will also install safety devices in environments and maintain, replace and upgrade them.

Safety Engineers require, at the very minimum, a bachelor’s degree. It should be in recognized engineering subjects such as electrical engineering, mechanical, civil, chemical and so on. Industrial hygiene may be a suitable substitute where possible too. Essentially, you are looking for science and design subjects centered on engineering. As this is a practical role, students should choose those degree programs that include an extensive program of on the job experience. Students should enter college already with strong grades in math and the hard sciences (chemistry, biology, physics or any combination thereof).

Recommended minor and elective choices should focus on workplace safety, environmental health and other engineering and safety associated choices.

Masters degrees will be required for those who wish to work on more complex problems and contracts, or to manage their own projects. A master’s is advisable in most cases, but not essential, especially in geographical areas where competition is likely to be higher.

Doctorates are not essential unless the candidate expects to enter a career in research and teaching.

Scope of Work of the Safety Engineer

The majority of Safety Engineers work in manufacturing. Here, their roles are varied. They could work in the actual environment, ensuring that the factory is as safe a place as possible for the employees. They could work in research and development to ensure that the product(s) are safe for use.

21% work in construction, fulfilling much the same roles. They may work on site ensuring that the processes, systems and technology are safe for those who work there. They may also be tasked with acquiring equipment, overseeing installation and maintaining it.

10% of qualified  safety engineers work in government roles – state and government. They will design and implement systems and technology for public buildings, ensuring they are safe for employees and visitors. 8% will work for engineering services and the remaining 4% work for management and scientific services.

Regardless of their work environment, they spend most of their time in an office but will be required to do site visits too.

What is Environmental Engineering?

Environmental engineering is the branch of engineering that focuses on protecting the environment by reducing waste and pollution. The field is also dedicated to improving environmental conditions through remediation. It deals with the design of technologies and processes that control pollution releases and clean up existing contamination.

Environmental engineers design, plan, and implement measures to prevent, control, or the remediation of environmental hazards. They may work on waste treatment, wastewater treatment, site remediation, or pollution control technology.

Scope of Work of the Environmental Engineer

Environmental engineers use their scientific knowledge to design systems that control pollution and protect public health. For example, they design systems, processes, and equipment to control waste and pollution, such as stack scrubbers and wastewater management systems. This includes industrial wastewater. Environmental engineers coordinate waste management and recycling activities at manufacturing sites and mines. They make sure it’s treated and disposed of in accordance with all environmental and health regulations. In fact, they’re often appointed to ensure that all of their companies’ projects, including building and development projects, are compliant with regulations. They advise on the environmental effects of construction projects, fill out permit paperwork, incorporate regulations into project planning, and conduct inspections to ensure compliance. They write environmental investigation reports detailing their findings. Environmental engineers also frequently serve as a company’s liaison with federal, state, or local agencies on issues related to waste program requirements.

In addition to controlling pollution, environmental engineers also design systems, processes, and equipment to help clean it up. The systems they create restore air, soil, and water quality at sites that have already been contaminated. Some environmental engineers work at the front lines of the clean energy economy, developing systems that convert waste into electric power.

Environmental engineers are often tasked with coordinating their companies’ environmental management system (EMS). An EMS is a voluntary management technique that ensures systematic implementation and review of customized environmental and safety best practices. EMS following the international standard ISO 14001 are particularly beneficial to the credibility of companies involved in international activities.