January 2012 health and safety at work
2011YOU might be forgiven for thinking
that comparing pay and conditions
with their peers would not be a pri-
ority for many health and safety practition-
ers in the present economic climate. Weak
growth and rising unemployment, massive
public sector budget cuts and the looming
shadow of ﬁnancial turmoil in Europe might
be expected to make many people draw in
their horns and sit tight, content simply to
have a job.
But against this backdrop, our annual
survey of pay and conditions brought a
surprising 41% increase in responses.
As in previous years, the survey
was carried out with recruiters Attwood
Burton. The questionnaire was on the web
between the second week in September
and the third week of October 2011. It
was advertised in HSW’s eNewsletter, on
www.healthandsafetyatwork.com and on
Attwood Burton’s website.
The survey drew 1233 responses from
UK practitioners, up from 720 in 2010 and
831 in 2009, our previous peak year. The
headline ﬁndings of this year’s poll are:
■ the median annual salary for full-time
health and safety managers is pitched
in the range £37,500 to £39,999, lower
than last year’s survey
■ The number suffering pay cuts has
more than halved since last year but
pay cuts or freezes still affected almost
half the practitioners surveyed
■ managers are highest paid on average
in the utilities and construction sector,
and lowest in manufacturing
■ despite economic insecurity, three-
quarters of practitioners felt secure in
their current jobs
■ full-time female health and safety practi-
tioners in our sample are paid 16% less
■ more than 70% of practitioners describemore than 70% of practitioners describe
themselves as “happy” or “very happy”themselves as “happy” or “very happy”
in their jobs.in their jobs.
Rate for the job
We asked participants to place their basicWe asked participants to place their basic
annual salaries in one of a set range ofannual salaries in one of a set range of
pay bands, each spanning £2,500, frompay bands, each spanning £2,500, from
£20,000 to £59,999, and then larger incre-£20,000 to £59,999, and then larger incre-
mental steps from £60,000 up to £79,999.mental steps from £60,000 up to £79,999.
Respondents were also able to indicateRespondents were also able to indicate
whether they are paid less than £20,000,whether they are paid less than £20,000,
or more than £80,000, a year.or more than £80,000, a year.
Respondents ticked the job title near-Respondents ticked the job title near-
est their own — regardless of any otherest their own — regardless of any other
responsibilities such as environmental orresponsibilities such as environmental or
quality management — from a list runningquality management — from a list running
from health and safety administrator tofrom health and safety administrator to
A total of 5.7% of all survey partici-A total of 5.7% of all survey partici-
pants earn annual salaries under £20,000,pants earn annual salaries under £20,000,
roughly evenly divided between the privateroughly evenly divided between the private
and public sectors though around a thirdand public sectors though around a third
of respondents in this category areof respondents in this category are
employed on a freelance consultancyemployed on a freelance consultancy
basis, or work-part-time.basis, or work-part-time.
Among the full-timers in this year’sAmong the full-timers in this year’s
sample, most at the bottom of the paysample, most at the bottom of the pay
spectrum are administrators, advisers orspectrum are administrators, advisers or
assistants. However, two full-time managersassistants. However, two full-time managers
are paid less than £20,000 a year, one in con-are paid less than £20,000 a year, one in con-
struction and the other in manufacturing.struction and the other in manufacturing.
There is a smaller group (2.2%) ofThere is a smaller group (2.2%) of
health and safety professionals paid ahealth and safety professionals paid a
basic annual salary in excess of £79,999,basic annual salary in excess of £79,999,
with most of these participants operating atwith most of these participants operating at
either head of department or director level.either head of department or director level.
As at the lower end, around a third of thisAs at the lower end, around a third of this
cohort of high earners works on a freelancecohort of high earners works on a freelance
or consultancy basis.or consultancy basis.
Across the sample as a whole, andAcross the sample as a whole, and
covering all job functions, the median (mid-covering all job functions, the median (mid-
point) annual salary is pitched betweenpoint) annual salary is pitched between
Our ﬁfth annual survey of the pay of
the profession ﬁnds pay cuts have
halved but freezes are still common,
says Adam Geldman
health and safety at work January 2012health and safety at work January 2012health and safety at work
£32,500 and £34,999. Exactly one-third
of the poll sample earn salaries between
£30,000 and £40,000.
The upper quartile (the point at or
above which the top 25% of salaries are
ranged) falls in the £40,000 to £42,499
band. The point at or below which the bot-
tom 25% of salaries can be found is known
as the lower quartile. This falls between
£25,000 and £27,499.
Figure 1 shows the salaries for com-
mon health and safety job titles in both the
private and public sectors, where there
were enough respondents to derive a
median for that job with conﬁdence.
This year’s survey sample only
partly overlaps with last year’s so
any comparisons between the
two must be treated with cau-
tion. Nevertheless, it is notable
that in a time of salary freezes
and cuts, median salaries for
most jobs in public and private
industries are the same as
those in last year’s survey,
but where they vary, they are
lower. This is true for health
and safety managers in both
parts of the economy.
Utilities in front
Figure 2 shows how salaries for the
benchmark job of health and safety
manager vary by industry, sometimes
For example our analysis reveals that
managers in utilities can expect a me-
dian annual salary in the range £42,500
to £44,999. However, at the midpoint,
health and safety managers working in
manufacturing are paid appreciably less:
between £32,500 and £34,999.
Alistair Attwood, director at Attwood
Burton, says the elevated median salaries
for managers in higher risk industries: utili-
ties and construction are no surprise.
“They just reflect the fact those or-
ganisations are ﬁshing in a smaller pool of
professionals with the necessary experi-
ence,” he says. Attwood’s fellow director
Mark Burton notes that though general
services comes next in the sector ranking,
this catch-all category for private sector
services includes some of the highest sala-
ries in the profession, paid to managers in
the ﬁnance sector.
As in previous years, there are some
noticeable regional differences in the
basic pay offered to health and safety
Across the whole sample, the highest
average salary was in the south east of Eng-
land, followed by Scotland and the South
West, with Wales at the bottom, all in line
with national earnings patterns.
A region-by-region breakdown of the
median salaries for full-time health and
safety managers is as follows:
■ South East — £40,000 to £42,499
■ Scotland — £37,500 to £39,999
■ South West — £37,500 to £39,999
■ East Midlands — £37,500 to £39,999
■ West Midlands — £35,000 to £37,499
■ North East — £32,500 to £34,999
■ North West — £32,500 to £34,999.
The Welsh sample of 24 managers was too
small to produce a meaningful median rate.
Fig 2. Median salary band by industry —Fig 2. Median salary band by industry —
health and safety managers*health and safety managers*
Fig 1. Median
salary by job title
*For full-time employees*For full-time employeesPublic sectorPrivate sector
January 2012 health and safety at work
A woman’s work
Health and safety management has the im-
age of being a male dominated profession.
To see how far this applied to our annual
survey sample, we included a question
about the respondents’ gender in the ques-
tionnaire for the ﬁrst time this year.
Of 1226 respondents who answered
the question, 78% are men (959) and 22%
women (267). For comparison, a recent
survey of environmental professionals
published in HSW’s sister magazine, the
Environmentalist, drew responses from
1293 men and 800 women, a 61%/39%
split. Having established a baseline for the
male/female split we will continue to moni-
tor the proportions in coming years.
Narrowing the gap between average
pay rates for women and men has been
a priority for trade unions and women’s
groups in the past 40 years and the latest
ﬁgures from the Ofﬁce for National Sta-
tistics (ONS) show the gender pay gap in
average earnings, excluding overtime pay,
narrowed from 16.3% to 10.2% between
2000 and 2010.
But that 10.2% gap across all profes-
sions conceals massive variations for
individual jobs, ranging from pay equality
for male and female physiotherapists up to
a 46% premium for male metal-making and
process-treating operatives over women in
the same roles.
The ONS data for the category “oc-
cupational hygienists and safety ofﬁcers”
shows a 20% gap between the average
male salary of £33,956 and the average
female wage of £27,156.
Analysing our own data for full-time
health and safety professionals, we ﬁnd
a median salary for men of £35,000 to
£37,500 and for women of £30,000 to
£32,500, a gap of 16% between the middle
of the two bands.
The smaller number of female respond-
ents in most of the job groups meant the
sub-samples were too small to calculate
reliable medians at job level, bar two:
■ health and safety advisers had me-
dian salary bands at the same rate of
£30,000 to £32,500
■ but stepping up to health and safety
manager level the divide begins to
show with a median of £35,000 to
£37,499 for women and £37,500 to
39,999 for men.
We asked participants to identify the most
advanced health and safety qualiﬁcation
they have achieved, and matched the
results with the salaries they earn. The
results are set out in Figure 3.
As the chart shows, the general picture
is that the higher the qualification, the
greater the salary. One exception is the
ﬁgure for the 127 respondents with health
and safety degrees, who are paid at the
median below their counterparts with the
National Examination Board in Occupa-
tional Safety and Health’s (NEBOSH)
National Diploma and equal with those
with National Vocational Qualiﬁcation or
Scottish National Vocational Qualiﬁcation
One explanation for the disparity may
be that since the degree route has been
open for a shorter time than the other
roughly equivalent qualiﬁcations, those
who have opted for it are likely to be at an
earlier stage of their careers. This is sup-
ported by the fact that though there are
18 director or heads of function among
our degree holders, they are heavily out-
weighed by the 35 ofﬁcers and assistants
Only 34 respondents, under 3% of the
sample, have no health and safety quali-
ﬁcations at all.
Mark Burton notes that while the re-
quirement for a NEBOSH Diploma, degree
or equivalent has become an increasingly
common requirement in health and safety
recruitment “in 14 years I’ve never seen
an ad asking for a postgraduate quali-
ﬁcation”. Nevertheless, he adds, these
higher quaiﬁcations is probably one of
the things that helps employers decide
when choosing between candidates for
the most senior jobs.
Survey participants were asked to identify
any membership of a professional body.
Of the 1156 health and safety practitioners
responding to the question:
■ 70% are Institution of Occupational
Safety and Health (IOSH) members,
though only a third of those have char-
tered member status.
■ 24% of respondents are either afﬁli-
ates, members or fellows of the Inter-
national Institute of Risk and Safety
■ 12% are members of the Institute of
Environmental Management and As-
sessment (IEMA), in most cases at
A further 247 respondents are not members
of any professional health and safety body.
This group represents 21% of respondents.
This is a higher ﬁgure than in last year’s
sample when the institutional outsiders
— and those who have not yet achieved
the minimum membership criteria — made
up only 15% of the sample.
There was a voice of disquiet among
the respondents about the rigour of the
professional bodies. A health and safety
adviser in the construction industry says:
“there are a signiﬁcant number of profes-
sionals who do not have a sufﬁcient knowl-
edge of safety, or know how to implement
it in their businesses. It can be too easy to
become a chartered professional.”
Fig 4. Employee beneﬁts
Pay freeze (nil)
Fig 5. Pay movements September 2010 to
Fig 3. Median salary band by highest
health and safety qualiﬁcation
We ﬁnd a median salary for men of
£35,000 to £37,500 and for women
of £30,000 to £32,500
Most health and safety
professionals continue to
experience a real-terms cut in
their standard of living
January 2012 health and safety at work
Fig 7. How secure is your job?
There was a time when the only extra-
salary beneﬁt most professionals asked
about when moving jobs was a company
car. More recently, a growing realisation of
the fact that what were once called “fringe”
beneﬁts can be worth as much as a third of
an individual’s overall remuneration pack-
age has led many workers to take these
add-ons into account when considering
whether to remain with their existing em-
ployer, or move on to pastures new.
Figure 4 (on previous page) shows
the most common beneﬁts received by
the range of pay rises, stands at 1% over
the 12 months to the end of August 2011.
The comparable ﬁgure last year was 0%,
that is, a pay freeze.
Analysis of the 85 practitioners who
received increases of 5% or above re-
veals no pattern of seniority, geography or
By way of a comparison, the median
pay award for the whole economy, as
measured by the remuneration analysts
XpertHR, over the year to the end of
August 2011 is 2.2%.
Headline inflation, as given by the
percentage change in the all-items Retail
Prices Index, stood at 5.2% over the 12
months to August 2011. This indicates that,
as was the case last year, most health and
safety professionals continue to experience
a real-terms cut in their standard of living.
How do you feel?
Health and safety practitioners were
asked to rate how they felt about their
salary levels. The responses are shown
in Figure 8.
It is perhaps unsurprising that only a
handful of participants (0.5%) feel they are
overpaid. There is, however, a widespread
perception among health and safety pro-
fessionals that they are underpaid, with
three-ﬁfths (60.2%) of the sample saying
they are paid less than they are worth. This
sense of being underpaid and undervalued
was the most common theme of respond-
ents’ comments in the survey.
“It is becoming more evident that busi-
nesses want safety professionals in a high
level management [role]. Unfortunately
they do not want to pay anywhere near
the other more commercial focused roles,”
said one consultant in a north west con-
struction company. “Safety professionals
need to demand better.”
“My salary demonstrates a total lack of
respect for health and safety,” commented
a manager working in the retail sector.
Another manager in transport and
logistics said that though he is highly
qualiﬁed and has many years of experi-
ence, he is only paid around £31,000, a
rate he describes as “disgusting”. On a
similar theme, an engineer working on a
freelance basis says that the pay of health
and safety professionals working in posi-
tions of responsibility is “pathetic”.
An assistant working in general serv-
ices stated that “my salary is substantially
below others in [the] same organisation
with [the] same job title but I am signiﬁ-
cantly more experienced and qualiﬁed than
most of them.”
The remaining two-ﬁfths of respondents
(39.3%) reported that, all things considered,
their salaries are just about right.
Fewer private sector respondents say
they are underpaid (51.6%) than in the
public sector (60%).
health and safety professionals. It shows
that almost one-third (32%) of all those
surveyed are eligible for some form of
cash bonus on top of their salaries. Just
under a quarter (24%) are provided with
a company car, with an almost identical
percentage (23%) in receipt of an allow-
ance to compensate them for using their
own vehicle for work purposes.
Pension provision has been subject to
much media coverage in recent months.
There has been a decades-long attrition
in the private sector of so-called ﬁnal-
salary or deﬁned beneﬁt schemes — which
accrue retirement benefits at a fixed
percentage of salary for each year of an
Such schemes have been widely re-
placed with deﬁned contribution schemes
where employers’ and employees’ contri-
butions are invested directly in the ﬁnancial
markets and the ﬁnal fund is unpredictable.
In the public sector, unions are ﬁghting
government plans to reduce the beneﬁts
of their ﬁnal salary schemes.
Our analysis ﬁnds that a total 41.5%
of the entire sample of 1233 enjoy mem-
bership of an employer-provided scheme,
though this may be something of an un-
derestimate. Of this cohort, almost one
quarter (23.9%) are members of ﬁnal sal-
ary schemes. A further 17.6% have joined
a money purchase scheme.
Some participants say their beneﬁts
are being squeezed. A head of safety in the
public sector told HSW that, in addition to
a two-year pay freeze, “anything remotely
considered as a perk: sick pay, car allow-
ances and even long-service awards, are
under threat, as are pensions. It’s not a
good place to work at the moment. I’ll be
leaving as soon as possible”.
Similarly, a consultant in the con-
struction industry commented that the
“recession has been used as an excuse
to remove or dilute beneﬁts”.
This time last year, 10% of health and safe-
ty practitioners reported they had suffered
a pay cut in the previous 12 months, and a
further 50% or so had seen their salaries
frozen. This time round, it appears that the
percentage of employees (excluding free-
lancers and consultants) subject to a wage
reduction has fallen to just 3.8%. However,
there has been a far less dramatic fall in
the percentage of respondents who have
had their pay frozen (43.8%).
Figure 5 on page 24 shows the distri-
bution of pay review outcomes over the
survey period. One participant said he
has not had a salary increase for three
years, while another found his pay reduced
when he moved from the private to the
Our headline measure of wage re-
views, as given by the median increase in
Fig 6. Private sector trading conditions
Next 12 months
Not at all
Past 12 months
Not at all
health and safety at work January 2012health and safety at work January 2012health and safety at work
The happiness index
With economic uncertainty, and large-scale
public spending cuts, you could be forgiven
for thinking that health and safety profes-
sionals would be fairly dissatisﬁed with their
lot. Yet this appears not to be the case.
Almost one ﬁfth (17.3%) of those re-
sponding to the question say they are cur-
rently “very happy”, with more than a half
(54.1%) reporting that they are “happy”. Just
over a ﬁfth (22.5%) are “unhappy”, with the
remaining 6.1% “very unhappy”.
Some in the latter categories are very
despondent. A health and safety manager
in the construction industry complained that
“bin men earn more than safety profession-
als, and they don’t have to study for years.”
“I only stay in this post because it pays
the mortgage. If I was able to move to another
job I would jump at the chance. The current
climate and my age prevent this,” says an
adviser working in general services.
Another survey participant described
his employer as a “bunch of gits who do not
believe in the concept of heath and safety.”
He went on, not surprisingly, to characterise
his mood as “unhappy”.
The weakness of the domestic economy
— Figure 6 shows only a quarter of private
sector respondents expect business to pick
up in the next 12 months — does not appear
to affect the overall sentiment of health and
safety professionals regarding their own
Perhaps counter-intuitively, a combined
total of 75.4% of practitioners surveyed
either feel “very” or “quite” secure in their
current roles (Figure 7 opposite).
Only a minority (24.5%) of those re-
sponding to the question are either “not
very” or “not at all” secure.
Though the proportion of those with at
least some conﬁdence in their security is
slighly lower for public sector practitioners
than for the whole sample (at 68%), that’s
still a high proportion. Mark Burton sug-
gests that perhaps many feel that since the
111,000 public sector jobs shed in 2010 did
not include theirs, they have been spared.
If so, recent announcements that public
services job losses will top 700,000 mean
unfortunately they won’t all be right.
Any other business
Finally, we gave our survey respondents the
opportunity to make any other comments
about their current situation. Their observa-
tions are illuminating.
One individual in the construction sector
stated that as trading conditions worsened
his employer’s commitment to health and
safety had diminished. Another, in manu-
facturing, noted that the ﬁnancial crisis had
made health and safety less of a priority at
A counterpart working in the public sector
reported that health and safety enforcement
ofﬁcer numbers has been cut by half in the
past 12 months. In fact, the current situation
in the public sector was pithily summarised by
a health and safety adviser as being “grim”.
One participant says that the profession
is becoming less attractive due to “the public’s
perception of what we do for a living”. Another
health and safety does not matter and it is just
‘red tape’ to be done away with. Companies
therefore feel it is a function that is superﬂuous
and can be cut back to save money.”
But it’s not all doom and gloom: a
health and safety professional working in
general services said that he works “for a
company that considers health and safety
a priority”. ■
The survey was carried out in
c o n j u n c t i o n w i t h At t w o o d
Burton, the leading health, safety and
environment recruitment specialist. It
helps organisations in every industrial
sector recruit the best professionals,
The 2011 survey sample
Our analysis is based on the responses to an online questionnaire received from
1233 UK-based heath and safety professionals. As in previous polls the private
sector is most heavily represented in the sample, accounting for 70.6% (856) of the
1211 who speciﬁed a broad sector, consistent with last year. A quarter (25.5% or
309 respondents) are in public-sector organisations and the remaining 3.9% (43)
work for charitable or third-sector organisations.
The distribution of respondents by industrial sector is as follows:
Industry Number of respondents %
Construction 266 22.0
Public sector (including armed forces) 262 21.6
Manufacturing 260 21.5
General services 153 12.6
Transport and logistics 83 6.8
Utilities (electricity, gas and water) 81 6.7
Retail and wholesale 43 3.6
Hotels and catering 31 2.5
Finance 14 1.2
Mining and quarrying 13 1.1
Agriculture and ﬁsheries 5 0.4
n = 1211
The south east of England and East Anglia is the base for 28.6% of the respondents
(353), while the Midlands contributed another 25% (309) followed by the north west
with 12.6% (155) and the north east with 10% (123). Just over 9% of practition-
ers polled (113) are in the south west of England, while 7.1% (88) are in Scotland
— slightly higher than last year’s 5% — and 6.1% (75) are in Wales. Northern Ireland
provided just 17 responses; 1.4% of the total.
Almost two-ﬁfths of participants (461) work in organisations the government would
class as small or medium-sized enterprises, because they have fewer than 250 employ-
ees. At the far end, around a third (34.1% or 421) work for employers with workforces
of 1000 or more.
Fig 8. Salary satisfaction
Are you paid enough?
Is the profession paid enough?
Too much 0.5% Not enough 39% Enough 60.2%
Too much 0.2% Not enough 48% Enough 51.8%
Perhaps many public sector
practitioners feel that since the
111,000 public sector jobs shed in
2010 did not include theirs, they
have been spared