Health and safety inspectors work to protect people's health and safety by making sure risks in the workplace are properly controlled. They ensure employers comply with all aspects of health and safety laws and that workplaces are not the cause of ill health, injury or even death. They do this by inspecting business premises and investigating accidents, and through enforcement of the law.
Health and safety inspectors work mainly for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). They work either for a general team or specialise in a particular area, such as construction, forestry or hazardous goods.
Typical work activities
Work activities vary depending on the geographical location and specialism but generally include:
visiting various business and industrial premises to inspect processes and procedures and ensure good health and safety practice;
investigating accidents and complaints and determining if there has been a breach of health and safety law;
carrying out examinations of machinery, working environments and structures, taking measurements of noise, heat, and vibrations, and taking photographs and samples where necessary;
ensuring workers are provided with suitable protective equipment, such as eye goggles, ear protectors or appropriate types of gloves and clothing;
investigating precautions taken to prevent industrial diseases;
investigating procedures for working in hazardous environments or with potentially harmful substances;
keeping up to date with new legislation and health and safety standards;
staying informed about developments within particular sectors, e.g. in agricultural or construction settings;
providing specialist advice and information on health and safety to businesses and organisations and advising on changes required;
negotiating with managers and operators to try to eliminate possible conflicts between safety considerations and production/profit;
writing reports on results of inspections and investigations and completing detailed paperwork;
determining when action, i.e. notices and/or prosecution, may be necessary and gathering and presenting the appropriate evidence;
developing health and safety working programmes and strategies;
developing methods to predict possible hazards drawn from experience, historical data and other appropriate information sources;
preparing for and presenting court cases if a decision is made to prosecute (this differs in Scottish law) and also appearing as a witness in court or at an employment tribunal;
providing training and educational support to employers and new/trainee employees.
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