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How to Become a Health and Safety Inspector

If you think you would like a job where you can use knowledge of the environment and safe work practices to help an organization thrive and keep their employees safe and healthy, a position as an Environmental Health and Safety Inspector may be perfect for you. 

Environmental Health and Safety Inspectors help organizations comply with environmental and workplace safety regulations. They also help educate employees to create a culture of conscious workplace safety.

The primary overarching duty of an Environmental Health and Safety Inspector is to analyze compliance guidelines regarding health, safety, and the environment, and make sure their company or client meets them. To this end, Environmental Health and Safety Inspectors work with company leadership to craft safety guidelines, policies, and practices. They educate employees on the “how and why” of those practices, thereby creating an overall safer company. 

Sample job description

From overseeing restaurants to factories, health and safety inspectors do the important work of ensuring that businesses follow the regulations put in place to keep workers as well as customers safe and well. They investigate accidents to see what went wrong and what protocols might be improved. They also make sure that restaurants make corrections to ensure the safety of the food they serve. Various specialties exist, including product safety, fire safety, and food safety. If you have excellent communication skills and a mind for critical thinking and creative solutions, [Your Company Name] might be the perfect place for you to work as a health and safety inspector.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Promote safety awareness in both work practices and company culture
  • Understand EPA, OSHA, MSHA, and DOT regulations and assure company compliance with them 
  • Assist in the development and implementation of EHS (Environmental Health and Safety) procedures, policies, and guidelines
  • Conduct inspections and audits, as required, to ensure compliance with company policies and applicable regulations
  • Assist in mitigation of identified hazardous conditions or unsafe acts 
  • Participate in incident investigations and assist with the development of corrective actions
  • Conduct EHS safety training

Education and experience

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in a scientific or technical field. Employers typically prefer job candidates who have certification from the National Environmental Health Association.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Knowledge of environmental laws and health policy
  • Ability to use air, soil, and water sampling tools
  • Excellent oral and written communications skills 
  • Strong critical-thinking, problem-solving, and analysis skills
  • Familiar with Microsoft Office Suite, database software, and analytical and scientific programs

Preferred qualifications

  • 2+ years of experience working as a health and safety inspector
  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Passion for safety
  • Strong attention to detail

Typical work environment

Health and safety inspectors work full time, spending much of their time in the office. At times, they may have to work outside of the normal 9 to 5 hours. They oversee the safety of factories, restaurants, and other workplaces, so they spend a good portion of time inspecting various worksites. They also spend some of their time traveling from location to location. While on a worksite, a health and safety inspector might be exposed to dangerous conditions, including physical, biological, and chemical risks.  

Typical hours

The typical work hours for an Environmental Health and Safety Inspector are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, both in an office setting and in the field.

Available certifications

The government implements rules and regulations to keep employees as well as the general public safe, and health and safety inspectors will always be needed to ensure compliance with those regulations. To begin working as a health and safety inspector, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree, typically in a field related to health or science. Certification programs exist to train you specifically for working in the field.

  • Occupational Safety and Health (OSH). This is a 15-credit course, with three courses that are required, and two elective courses. The certification program is completed online and can be tailored to meet your speciality, from ergonomics to worker’s compensation.
  • Certified Safety Professional (CSP). Offered by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals, the CSP certification will prepare you for senior managerial work. Prior to certification, you’ll need previous certifications and a few years of professional experience. The exam is difficult to pass, but the CSP can help you advance your career as a health and safety inspector. 

Career path

The path to becoming an Environmental Health and Safety Inspector typically starts with earning a bachelor’s degree in a scientific or technical field. Environmental Health and Safety Inspectors can also obtain certification to help further their knowledge and experience. 

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 17-2111

2020 Employment24,100
Projected Employment in 203025,600
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 6% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift1,500 increase

The Flexographic Technical Organization offers professional skill and knowledge development opportunities, such as modules covering pertinent topics and certification programs.