Businesses prepared to pay more for good H&S professionals

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Salaries for health and safety professionals are rising sharply throughout parts of the UK, with the profession enjoying a higher profile driven by the pandemic and the growth of wellbeing.

Rickmansworth-based recruiters, Irwin & Colton, report that Health and Safety Advisor salaries in London have increased 20 per cent over the past 12 months. While Shirley Parsons, global experts in HSEQ talent, says that salaries have risen on average across the sector by 16 per cent.

James Irwin, who has recently placed a health and safety director role at £130k, which had originally advertised at £110k, says that companies are prepared to pay for talent. “Offering a competitive salary in such a demanding market is essential for a successful recruitment campaign. The market has changed very quickly.”

Big projects, such as Tideway and Hinkley Point, are recruiting ‘huge numbers’ of health and safety professionals according to recruiters. Photograph: iStock

One key driver is coronavirus and the key role that H&S professionals played in protecting people and businesses from the virus impacts, says Liam Tiddy head of executive search at Shirley Parsons: “The brunt of the Covid response and future pandemic planning fell at the feet of H&S teams and this has certainly increased the profile of the industry.”

James Irwin, director of Irwin & Colton, says that large construction projects including HS2, which stretches from Birmingham, through the Midlands to West London, are also driving up pay. “Salaries have increased as activity on HS2 has increased and contractors look to build their teams. This has seen Health and Safety Advisor salaries in this region come in line with those we are seeing in London, which has always traditionally paid more.”

Other projects, such as Tideway and Hinkley Point are recruiting ‘huge numbers’ of health and safety professionals he says, putting ‘more pressure on the candidate pool.’

At the same time, health and safety professionals are expected to take on more work including the environment, climate change adaptation and wellbeing.

Liam Tiddy says: “The areas of Wellbeing, and ESG are increasingly sitting either within or alongside the H&S functions. This means that H&S professionals are having to add further strings to their bows. Sometimes this means taking on full responsibility of these areas, and other times supporting other teams in a collaborative manner.”

Most salaries in the UK are failing to keep pace with the soaring cost of living, with inflation at the highest levels since 2006.

However, some occupations have stood out as weathering the storm, including the HR and Recruitment sector which saw salaries rise by 15.2pc between 2021 and 2022. Manufacturing also saw wage growth higher than inflation, with the average salary rising by 13.4pc, according to data from jobs website Adzuna.

The cost of living is a factor for looking for higher pay when moving jobs, says Liam Tiddy: “Whereas historically money was never a prime motivator for HSE professionals, the economic situation has meant that take home pay has become a much stronger motivator for everyone, particularly at lower and mid-level positions.”

In addition, he has seen improvement in the professionalism of the sector in the last 10 to 20 years. “Many within the industry are more business minded and look for health and safety policies to complement their company’s goals. This has seen their value being increasingly recognised by hiring directors and managers.”


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