Health and safety inspectors are employed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or by local authorities to monitor, maintain and protect health and safety standards in accordance with current legislation. A large amount of time is spent visiting properties such as factories, farms, offices, schools, quarries and shops, where premises, equipment and procedures are checked for compliance with health and safety legislation. Responsibilities of the job include:
- investigating accidents, complaints and cases of ill-health
- serving legal notices
- writing reports
- recording infringements of the law
- providing advice and recommendations
- gathering and preparing legal evidence
- providing prosecution evidence in court
The job can require working in polluted, noisy, filthy or dangerous conditions and involves enforcing legislation.
As vacancies attract intense competition, candidates possessing relevant work experience are often at an advantage. Work experience, networking and visits to local HSE offices can be helpful. Opportunities are advertised by careers services, online, in newspapers and publications such as Opportunities, Municipal Journal and Health and Safety at Work, as well as on the HSE website.
To become a health and safety inspector it is normally necessary to have a degree. Inspectors begin as trainees on a vocational three-year training programme with HSE, during which time a diploma in occupational health and safety is obtained. To be accepted onto the trainee programme, an appropriate degree such as environmental health, science or engineering is preferred. Postgraduate qualification and/or work experience may be required for some specialist positions.
All candidates should be UK nationals and, if successful, will be asked to provide details of their health record.. Continual professional development is an important part of the job, as health and safety regulations can be complicated and subject to frequent amendment.
Employers seek graduates who are calm, assertive and resilient, with excellent communication, teamworking and interpersonal skills. Candidates must be capable of acquiring and retaining detailed legal, technical and commercial information.