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Safety inspectors help companies identify, reduce and eliminate workplace hazards. This valuable work saves lives and reduces costs. The path to becoming a safety inspector and helping businesses benefit from your expertise involves the right education, training and work experience. Education comes with a degree or certificate program. Training comes with internships or on-the-job learning. Experience happens over time. According to the Board of Certified Safety Professionals, there are several paths to a career in safety. Your path might be different from someone else’s, but the journey starts with a plan.
Plan the Path
Having a plan to get the necessary skills and education is the first step to becoming a safety inspector. A plan forces you to narrow your focus on a particular safety segment. This makes learning safety fundamentals and inspection practices more manageable. For example, if you work at a chemical manufacturing plant and want to get involved in safety inspections, learn OSHA general industry standards. If you want an inspection job that focuses on the transport of hazardous materials, research Department of Transportation Hazardous Materials Regulations.
Once you know where to focus, you can get the relevant education. A number of colleges and universities offer safety or safety-related four-year degree programs. Trade schools and community colleges also offer two-year degree programs in safety. Courses typically cover safety topics like hazard recognition, hazard control, accident investigation and assessment of safety performance. If you are already employed, a non-degree certificate program is another education option. Certificate programs are normally a week long and are offered by OSHA approved training institutes.
Go for the Job
Hands-on training is recommended for learning how to conduct safety inspections. This means taking on work as an intern or applying for entry level safety jobs. Government agencies, health care organizations and manufacturing companies all hire safety inspectors at various career levels. Gain experience by participating in inspections alongside established safety professionals. Zero in on the observations made, questions asked and how inspection reports are written. On-the-job training helps new inspectors learn the safety rules and regulations inspections are based on.
Advance with Professional Certifications
As a safety inspector, professional certifications can help advance your career and open doors to more career opportunities. One such certification program is the Certified Safety Professional. Safety professionals who achieve industry recognized certifications demonstrate competency in their field, reports the Board of Certified Safety Professionals. Many employers prefer hiring safety inspectors who hold CSP certification over those who do not. Successful CSP certification is not a cakewalk, however. Acing the exam requires knowledge, skills and experience.
- The American Society of Safety Engineers: Careers in Safety
- Board of Certified Safety Professionals: The Ladder of Success
- Oregon State University: Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety
- OSHA: Training Institute Education Centers
- Board of Certified Safety Professionals: The Safety Professional Today
Deb Dupree has been an active writer throughout her career in the corporate world and in public service since 1982. She has written numerous corporate and educational documents including project reports, procedures and employee training programs. She has a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from the University of Tennessee.