The responsibility of a safety officer is to ensure that legislation, procedures, guidelines, safety rules and company policies are being carried out by the workforce. The safety officer is hired by the company to do this and reports directly to a supervisor or the owner of the company. Safety officers are not necessarily engineers. They may be former workers or supervisors, and may or may not have special training.
A safety engineer is a qualified mechanical or chemical engineer. This individual is responsible for developing and maintaining safety on the worksite. They monitor work conditions and works to create a work environment that anticipates chronic and acute hazards, and makes that workplace as safe as possible. Safety engineering courses and certificates beyond basic engineering diplomas are usually held by safety engineers. These people are hired by the company and report to a supervisor or the owner.