The average salaries of health and safety professionals have leapt an average 9.6 per cent over the past year, according to a recent salary survey.
It found that there has been a significant turnaround in health and safety salary packages, with HSE general managers earning a total actual remuneration of $271,310 (up from $221,509 last year) while national managers also enjoyed an increase to their average actual packages to $174,474.
As companies look for employees to meet more short-term performance indicators as part of their remuneration package, the survey also found that short-term incentives (STIs) are back on the radar with 59 per cent of national managers and 76 per cent of general managers eligible for STIs.
Conducted by specialist search and recruitment business SafeSearch, the survey includes data from more than 60 Australian companies, primarily from the ASX 200, and covers a diverse range of industries including energy, resources, construction, manufacturing, industrial and retail.
Julie Honore, managing director of SafeSearch, said "the big message is that we're back to a shortage in the health and safety area".
"We were certainly feeling the shortage before the GFC but I think we had some breathing space during the GFC," she said.
"Now everybody is scrambling for a limited number of resources again, and that is very quickly pushing salary levels up."
The survey found that traditional geographical variations also impact remuneration. The highest packages in safety saw NSW take the lead at the officer level, SA for advisor/coordinator, QLD for manager and national manager, and WA at the general manager level.
Blanket remuneration policies are no longer applicable if employers want to attract and retain the best and the brightest, said Honore.
"Increased awareness and a willingness from organisations to tailor packages according to the demand for people at a particular geographical location and level, is a crucial strategy for businesses," she said.
Furthermore, the mining, construction and resources sectors paid the highest remuneration. The pay gap is often significant, and at the manager level in safety, for example, there was a $35,000 difference between the actual average remuneration paid to this sector and the next sector of professional/consulting/retail services.
Demand for higher formal safety qualifications is also high, and the survey found that for safety professionals at the officer level, 55 per cent have a minimum of a Diploma level qualification, and 56 per cent of those at the coordinator level have a minimum degree level qualification while at the manager and national manager levels there is a trend towards Graduate Diploma and Masters level qualifications.
"This reinforces our observation that particularly larger organisations are now seeking evidence of a disciplined and informed approach to safety," said Honore.
"Safety professionals increasingly need to be more informed and able to demonstrate they can draw on theory underpinning their approach, in conjunction with the ability to engage and use a practical approach."