The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a government organization created to reduce workplace injuries and hazards. The organization conducts inspections of work sites to ensure employers and employees follow the regulations regarding workplace safety. To work as an OSHA safety inspector an individual must have the education and training to recognize and manage hazards in the workplace.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, occupational health and safety specialists, including inspectors, must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree education. Students should pursue a degree in occupational health or safety. Inspectors may also have a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, engineering or biology to qualify for a position. The inspector may also pursue a graduate-level education to pursue advancement opportunities in the agency. A degree program may require students to complete an internship, which provides valuable experience on the job.
OSHA inspectors receive training on the job to recognize safety hazards and perform workplace inspections. Training for inspectors must include OSHA laws and regulations. Training for inspectors is conducted through on-the-job experience and agency classroom training. OSHA inspectors must have documented up-to-date training or experience in safety and health hazards in the workplace. The inspector not only must be able to recognize hazards in the workplace, but also must be able to make suggestions on the procedures to correct hazards.
Certification is voluntary for occupational health and safety inspectors, but it can enhance employment opportunities in the agency. Organizations that offer certification for workers in the occupational health and safety field include the Board of Certified Safety Professionals, the American Board of Health Physicists and the American Board of Industrial Hygiene. Candidates must meet eligibility requirements and pass a certification examination to earn credentials. Eligibility requirements may include experience in the field.
An inspector with OSHA must have a strong attention to detail to perform inspections in various workplace settings. The inspector must have good communication skills to work with employees in the companies under inspection and to prepare reports on the findings of an inspection. An inspector must have good interpersonal skills to interact with workers, management and supervisors as well.
2016 Salary Information for Occupational Health and Safety Specialists
Occupational health and safety specialists earned a median annual salary of $70,920 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, occupational health and safety specialists earned a 25th percentile salary of $54,320, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $88,050, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 83,700 people were employed in the U.S. as occupational health and safety specialists.