Health and safety pay survey 2007

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Courtesy of LexisNexis

The love of money may be the root of all evil, but in a market economy health and safety professionals cannot be blamed for taking a healthy interest in what price their services command.

To help satisfy that natural curiosity, HSW has teamed up for a second year with recruitment specialists Principal People to present a snapshot of salaries for health and safety jobs.

In September, Principal People invited candidates who had recently registered with them to fill in an online questionnaire about their current salaries. There were 499 responses.

The survey sample is not the same as last year's (see Health and safety pay survey 2006), so we can't draw any conclusions from the differences in salary levels between this year and last. What we can say is that this is a picture of salary levels for common job titles among a random (if self-selecting) group of health and safety professionals, from administrators and assistants up to directors and heads of function.

Sector specific
Two sectors account for almost two-fifths of the total sample: construction and manufacturing contributed around 19% of respondents each. The public services, comprising central and local government and education, make up another 15% (75 respondents). Just under 8% (42) are employed in private services organisations, including consultancies, facilites management providers and law firms, and a similar number (39) work in transport, storage and distribution.

The sample is less concentrated in the South East of England than last year, with only a quarter of respondents based there (compared with a third last time). The East and West Midlands, the South West and the North West each contribute around 10%, 7% are based in Scotland and around the same number in Wales.

When it comes to job titles, 15% of our sample are simply health and safety managers, closely followed by health and safety officers (14%), health and safety consultants (11%) and health, safety and environment managers (9%).

Multidisciplinary health, safety, quality and environment managers make up 8% of the total, and health, safety and environment officers another 6%. Only 4% of respondents are health, safety and facilities managers. Figure 1 shows the median salary band for the 10 most common job titles.

Participants were asked to place themselves in a range of £2,500 salary bands from £20,000 to £80,000. Just over 8% (38 respondents) said their salaries fall below the lower £20,000 limit, including eight consultants, five officers, five assistants and another five administrators. No health and safety managers fell into this lowest category.

At the upper end, five people (two heads of health and safety, two consultants and a manager in financial services) report annual earnings higher than £80,000 a year and a total of 44 (just over 9%) earn more than £50,000.

The averages quoted are the medians (the midpoints in the ranges of respondents' answers), which avoids the distorting effect a few high or low earners can have on a mean average.

The average salary band for the whole survey sample is £30,000-32,499, and one-sixth of respondents (50) report salaries in this range.

Well qualified
Our sample does not lack vocational qualifications.

63% of those surveyed (314 respondents) hold the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health's (NEBOSH) National General Certificate.

8% (39 respondents) have the NEBOSH Construction Certificate.

12% (56) have achieved Level 4 Scottish or National Vocational Qualifications.

23% (114) hold the NEBOSH National Diploma.

Some 15% (74) have successfully taken the health and safety degree route.

Around 5% (23) have postgraduate certificates.

10% (52) hold postgraduate diplomas.

Almost 7% (34) have achieved masters degrees in health and safety.

As Figure 2 (below) shows, median salaries rise fairly evenly with the highest level of qualification respondents hold.

The seeming anomaly that respondents with postgraduate certificates have a higher average salary than those with postgraduate diplomas is easily explained by the fact that only seven respondents have postgrad certificates as their highest health and safety qualifications, too small a sample for the midpoint salary to be truly reliable. All other groups had large enough samples for the figures to be seen as robust.

Joined up?
This year's sample contains fewer full chartered members or fellows of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) than 2006, around a quarter, compared with a third last time, but including the lower affiliate, tech and grad IOSH members brings the total associated with the institution up to 70% of respondents.

Around 20% are members or affiliates of the other major professional body, the International Institute of Risk and Safety Management (IIRSM). But 17% of respondents (84 participants) say they are not members of any professional body.

The wide spread of respondents' job titles and locations made it hard to produce reliable salary estimates for even the common jobs, except in the South East, where the median salaries are as follows:

health and safety officer: £27,500-£29,999

health and safety manager: £32,500-£34,999

health and safety consultant: £35,000-£37,499

health, safety and environment manager: £37,500-£39,999.

The samples in some other areas were large enough to take snapshots for selected job titles, so it is possible to say the median salary band for health and safety officers in the West Midlands and in the North East is £25,000-£27,499, while in the North West health and safety managers are paid between £32,500 and £34,999 at the median.

Are you satisfied?
Figure 3 provides a simple gauge of how happy people are with their current remuneration.

Given that all of the respondents have recently registered with a recruitment agency, it wouldn't be a surprise if a majority thought they should be earning more. But that's not the case: only 38% think they are underpaid (down from 44% in last year's survey) and 60.5% are happy with their lot. Presumably they are looking to change jobs for more (or less) challenging work, rather than a pay hike.

They are a tiny number overall, but it's still worth noting that the proportion who admit they see themselves as overpaid has almost doubled this year to 1.6%. Since the eight respondents who reckon their salaries are too high all report normal pay rates for their job titles, perhaps their admissions have more to do with lack of self esteem than their employers' generosity.

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