CHOOSING A CAREER / SEP. 04, 2014
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How to Become a Health and Safety Inspector

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Health and safety inspectors work to improve public health by monitoring and inspecting workplaces to check whether they comply with occupational health and safety requirements. They inspect several places, including business entities, learning institutions, leisure resorts and healthcare facilities. If you have an interest in healthcare and possess the ability to analyze situations accurately, this could be the career path for you.

See also: How to Answer the Top 10 Health and Safety Officer Interview Questions

The Work

Health and safety inspectors are mainly employed by the Health and Safety Executive to monitor and help enhance public health and safety standards. They do this by performing the following duties;

  • Investigating cases and complaints of ill-health by workers
  • Following up inspections of public establishments to ensure compliance with sanitary codes
  • Preparing inspection reports
  • Maintaining inspection records for future reference
  • Using inspection records to testify in hearings regarding health violations
  • Evaluating and analyzing procedures used when working with harmful and hazardous substances.
  • Giving professional advice on improving occupation health and safety matters
  • Staying abreast of changes in health laws and regulations.

Work Environment

The working hours for health and safety inspectors often depends on the day’s workload. They spend most of their work time travelling to inspect places such as private offices, laboratories, swimming pools and workshops. At times, the inspectors are required to work in confined spaces, especially when inspecting factories.

Health and safety inspectors may work under noisy, oily and dangerous conditions. As such, they need to wear protective clothing, such as gloves and boots, to avoid injuries.

Salary

The following table provides the amount of money aspiring health and safety inspectors can expect to earn at various career levels;

Job level

Annual pay

Beginner specialists

£26,500 - £29,000

Experienced inspectors

£35,000 - £50,000

Senior inspectors

£50,000 - £70,000

Source: Prospects 

Entry Requirements

To get started as a health and safety inspector, you need to earn a bachelor’s degree in any of the following fields;

  • Environmental health
  • Environmental engineering
  • Public health
  • Sanitary science
  • Food technology.

If you hold a higher national diploma in any of the fields listed above, you may be able to qualify for employment provided that you have at least two years of professional work experience.

You will also need to pass a health test and have a good level of physical fitness.

Important skills and Abilities

To be an effective health and safety inspector you need;

  • Knowledge on industrial legislation
  • The practical ability to use special equipment used in the work
  • A good understanding of different industrial technologies
  • Good written and spoken communication skills
  • A willingness to keep yourself up to date with health and safety developments
  • A good attention to detail to carry out inspections effectively
  • The confidence to work in dangerous work settings
  • Good driving skills.

Training and Development

Many employers, including the HSE provide training for new health and safety inspectors. Although this training is sufficient to boost your job competence, you should focus on securing advanced qualifications to enhance your career progression prospects. Examples of courses you could pursue include;

  • Graduate diploma in occupational health.
  • Master’s degree in health and safety

You can also attend conferences and training workshops, as well as join professional associations like;

Job Opportunities

Although the HSE is the main employer for health and safety inspectors, you could also seek employment in;

  • Local authorities
  • Hospitals and nursing facilities
  • Food processing companies.

With vast experience and advanced qualifications, you could become a health and safety manager in various organizations or move into self-employment by establishing your own occupational health and safety consulting firm.

Useful Links

That is all you need to become a successful health and safety inspector; a profession that gives you the opportunity to play your part in promoting healthier, safer workplaces and communities.

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