The job of the refinery safety engineer is to protect employees, contractors and the community surrounding the refinery by implementing safety systems and working hand in hand with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), management, supervisors and employees in a hazardous environment that includes flammable, explosive and chemical hazards. The safety engineer trains employees to operate safely and works with management to ensure the safety processes are being implemented properly and with OSHA representatives during inspections.
The primary function of the safety professional is to prevent harm to employees of the company and its subcontractors by implementing safety systems and ensuring employees are using safe work practices and have a safe work environment to work in. It is the safety engineer's duty to recognize, evaluate and implement controls for any hazards found in the workplace. Secondly, it is within the safety engineer's scope of responsibility to recommend loss prevention measures and to ensure compliance with state and federal regulations.
The environment in a refinery typically consists of multiple processing units, analytical laboratories, truck and railroad loading areas, vehicle maintenance shops, workshops and offices. The work process for product production in the processing units and other areas have hazards such as noise, chemical and fire hazards as well as other physical hazards such as high temperature and high pressure liquids and gasses. It is the job of the safety engineer to make this dangerous environment as safe as possible for the people who work within the refinery.
Education and Training
For employment, safety engineers are typically required to have a bachelor's degree in health and safety engineering and to be licensed as a professional engineer in the state they are working. Licensing requirements include an engineering degree, 4 years of work experience and a two-part state examination. Additional certifications can be obtained through the Board of Certified Safety Professionals including the Certified Safety Professional (CSP).
Depending on the type of refinery the job is conducted at, the employer may also require an annual Basic Orientation Plus training, Hazardous Communications training and Hazardous Waste Operator and Emergency Response training, depending on the employee's experience and the dynamics of the company.
Types of Employment
In the refinery business, there are safety representatives and engineers who are permanently employed by the refinery, and there are safety representatives employed by the refinery through subcontractors. Subcontractors travel often and are used when the refinery does major maintenance on the processing units and requires additional personnel to meet time requirements for each project. Safety engineers can also specialize in equipment such as personal protective equipment (PPE), fire fighting equipment or breathing air equipment (SCBA).
Earnings for safety engineers working in refineries vary depending on the industry, education and experience of the individual. In 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the lowest 10 percent of safety engineers earn approximately $43,000, where the highest 10 percent earn more than $106,000 in 2008. The median income of a safety engineer in 2008 was $72,000.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment growth for health and safety engineers is expected to be 10 percent over the next decade, which is average for all occupations. Health and safety engineers make production processes safer for employees, and their services should always be in demand. As new technologies and processes are developed, safety engineers will be needed to develop safety procedures and policies to ensure the new processes are safe for employees.
- Photo Credit Refinery at Dawn image by DanielDupuis from Fotolia.com
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