Health and safety inspector
Health and safety Inspectors are civil servants who deal with health and safety in workplaces. They make sure that employers follow health and safety legislation. Inspectors visit workplaces to make routine checks on standards. They also investigate complaints and industrial accidents which may require liaison with legal and insurance departments, or local authorities.
The health and safety inspectors’ primary focus is a preventative one, which is to raise awareness among employers and their employees on their responsibilities under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005. With this in mind they are looking at the level of preparedness of Irish workplaces on safety and health management and in particular on the preparation and implementation of the safety statement. The safety statement must spell out how safety and health is managed in the workplace, to which it relates and must include the risk assessments which were carried out.
Following an accident, the health and safety inspector collects information about what has happened and may need to commence start legal proceedings which may require attendance in court as a professional witness to present their findings as evidence.
Inspectors might decide that an organisation could improve the health and safety of employees; in extreme circumstances, inspectors may need to use their legal powers to issue enforcement notices.
- Taking measurements, photographs, video recordings.
- Arranging for any testing, examination or analysis to be carried out at the workplace.
- Giving on site advice as appropriate during inspection visits.
- Educating and guiding both the workforce and the employer in health and safety matters.
- Writing reports on findings, and suggestions for changes needed to comply with legislation.
- Raising the profile of health and safety at the workplace.
Travel: during work day is frequent as well as working away from home.
Working hours: regular extra hours but not weekends or shifts.
Location: in towns or cities throughout the country. Health and safety inspectors can find themselves outside in all weathers or in office and production environments with employees of all levels.
Opportunities for self-employment: not possible though opportunities to work freelance as a health and safety consultant exist.
- Health and Safety Authority
- Health and safety consultancy firms.
Opportunities exist to enter into safety consultancy and safety training.
The average salary of HSE/local authority inspectors who responded to a 2009 survey was £32,953.
Specific degree subjects required
Most people entering the profession are graduates with an honours degree and/or a specialist masters degree.
Other relevant degree subjects
Degrees in Occupational Safety and Health are relevant and most science, engineering or technology subjects give relevant background knowledge.
A pre-entry postgraduate qualification is a not a requirement but can be advantageous. There are post-graduate training programme at various centres throughout the country.
Tips for applications
Meet health and safety inspectors to discuss the kind of work they do; undertake work experience to sample the profession at first hand.
Skills and qualities
- Commitment to protecting the public's health and safety.
- Enthusiasm and attention to detail at all times.
- Good communication skills to explain safety procedures and regulations clearly and concisely to people from a wide variety of backgrounds.
- Excellent written communication skills to produce reports.
- A calm, professional manner to defuse potential confrontations along with the ability to deal with people who are distressed or angry.
- Good negotiating skills, patience and tact.
- Firmness and the ability to enforce the law where necessary.
- Good organisational skills to prepare and prosecute cases using own evidence and analyses – must be prepared to appear in court.