Career Guide

Health and Safety Inspector

Ben Maples  · May 18th 2021

Do you have an analytical mind and excellent communication skills?

Two people in fluorescent uniforms and helmets discussing things by a pier

Well, one option is to work as a health inspector! It’s popular with science and engineering graduates, but it’s a competitive profession that offers fantastic business opportunities. Like the sound of that? Read our HSE Inspector career guide below!

Health and Safety Inspector Career Guide

Who is the hse, and what do they do?

The HSE (health and safety executive) is the national regulator for all aspects of health and safety in the workplace for Britain. They are an executive non-departmental public body which is sponsored by the Department for Work and Pensions. Health and safety law is enforced either by environmental health officers working for local government or the HSE, depending on the activity carried out at workplaces.

What are health and safety inspectors?

One of the biggest goals for HSE is protecting the public and its workforce, and it’s a very significant role. They ensure risks are controlled and that employers comply with laws and regulation. They make sure workplaces are not the cause of injury, ill-health or death. Health inspectors have the right to enter and inspect a business, investigate accidents and advise employers via enforcing the law.

They typically work for the HSE, although they can work for large companies or local government. They can also specialise in particular areas like hazardous goods or work in a general team. Five powers that the health and safety executive have, include inspecting and investigating, taking samples and photographs, seize or destroy dangerous items and obtaining statements and information. They can also enter a premises, require an area or machine to be left undistributed and render items harmless.

Initially, a trainee enforcement officer tends to earn between £25,000 and £30,000 after two years’ of training.

What is the role of the health and safety executive?

What is the HSE responsible for? HSE inspectors powers are vital in the world of work, and HSE employees responsibilities are just as significant. They will visit industrial and business premises, inspect procedures and ensure there are good health and safety practice in place.

They’ll carry out HSE inspections, investigate complaints and accidents, and determine if the law is breached. Examining environments, machinery, structures, taking photos and samples and measuring heat, noise, and vibrations are typical for the job. Also, HSE roles and responsibilities involve investigating what precautions are in place to prevent industrial illness or disease, and ensuring employees have access to protective equipment like gloves, goggles, protectors and clothing for their industry. Whether you work as a restaurant inspector or visit construction sites, you will issue out sources of information on health and safety to employers.

They’ll need to keep up to date with health and safety standards and new legislation, as well as developments across various sectors and create programmes and strategies. HSE employees' responsibilities involve investigating hazardous environments, procedures with harmful substances, and communicating with managers to eliminate potential conflicts between production and safety. Writing reports, inspection results, issuing HSE enforcement notices or prosecution are typical. Also, attending court - from employment tribunals or being a witness in court - is part of the job, alongside providing training to new employees.

Health and Safety Inspector Career

How to become a health and safety inspector?

A health and safety inspectorate employee is usually a graduate of any profession. However, a degree in environmental health, physical and applied sciences, food tech, and engineering are beneficial. So, if you’re wondering, ‘how to become a food hygiene inspector?’ then studying food technology will be a better route than mechanical engineering. There are no official qualifications, i.e., a food health inspector course, but instead relevant subjects you can study. How to become an inspector in a specialist role? You’ll need a relevant undergraduate degree, a postgraduate qualification, work experience or chartered membership of a related professional institution.

For most roles, having GCSE (C or 4) in maths is usually a requirement. But if you have a foundation degree or an HND, having two years of experience will be beneficial in a relevant career. It’s not possible to work as a health inspector without one of these qualifications. There are also health and safety graduate schemes available from multiple organisations and local authorities, but it’s best to find out what area you’d like to specialise in before applying.

The HSE (health and safety executive) is the national regulator for all aspects of health and safety in the workplace for Britain.

What skills are useful in health and safety inspections?

Alongside HSE inspector powers, there are preferred skills that will be part of the role. You’ll need to have excellent communication, persuasion, problem-solving and negotiation skills. As well as the ability to understand modern industrial technology, legal matters, legislation and the latest standards, you should be confident at all times, whether you’re giving HSE construction advice or explaining sources of health and safety information.

Inspectors are resilient, practical, and up to date with new developments. They use discretion and tact and always put health and safety first. Depending on your role and experience, you may need specialist knowledge if you work in a particular environment, like a nuclear safety inspector position. A driving licence is essential as you’ll travel to sites and business premises within your patch, and you should be physically fit - you’ll be negotiating uneven surfaces, climbing heights and examining obstacles. In some cases, you may need to pass a medical exam.

What is it like working in HSE enforcement?

The job is much more than being able to recite the HSE health and safety at work Act. HSe working hours tend to follow 9-5 office-based roles, but you may be required to work different hours for particular jobs, like industrial safety inspections. You’ll spend a lot of time visiting premises, both indoors and outdoors, and within noisy, smelly, or even dangerous working environments. You will wear adapted protective clothing on each site visit in case of potential HSE hazards. Also, you could either be based in an urban area, large city or small town, and long days and travel are standard due to the nature of the job.

Health and Safety Inspector

What is the average health and safety inspector salary?

There are set HSE pay scales within local authorities, health and safety bodies and individual organisations, but they may vary with experience and the company. Initially, a trainee enforcement officer tends to earn between £25,000 and £30,000 after two years’ of training. HSE inspectors with three to five years’ experience can take home £35,000, or as much as £50,000 depending on where they work and their specialism. Someone at a senior level can expect a wage of up to £90,000. Again, this is dependent on location, specialism and their level of responsibility.

Where to find work in the health and safety executive (HSE)?

Most inspectors work for the HSE, which is sponsored by DWP. Jobs are usually across the country within local authorities or specialist consultancies. They can work within a broad range of industries, from railways, airports, hospitals, mines, construction, utilities, police, nursing homes and the government. If a local authority hires you, you may inspect shops, entertainment organisations, offices, leisure businesses, places of worship, hotels or catering companies. Look for trainee inspector roles within HSE and local government.

A health and safety inspectorate employee is usually a graduate of any profession.

What are the prospects for an HSE inspector?

After qualifying and passing your training, you’ll work as an inspector across a range of groups, with most people spending three to five yeast in each group. After that, you can move up to be a principal inspector, which is competitive and usually, a lot of people apply for the promotion. By having a decent amount of experience, higher education and specialism in a particular area, it can increase your chances.

If you have the substantial experience required, you can progress to a safety officer in industry or a policy role within senior management. Some individuals choose to work in a consultancy post and work freelance on a self-employed basis. In contrast, others may decide to go into lecturing and teaching and move into the academic side of the career. Another opportunity is to transfer to a managerial role or move to a different sector.

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