Health and Safety Inspector
Health and safety inspectors assess workplaces and work activities to determine if employers are keeping workers and other people safe and healthy at work. They also educate people about health and safety, investigate accidents and lead prosecutions.
Trainee and newly warranted health and safety inspectors usually earn
$61K-$66K per year
Fully trained health and safety inspectors with at least five years' experience usually earn
$76K-$93K per year
Source: WorkSafe New Zealand, 2017.
Pay for health and safety inspectors varies depending on their skills and experience.
- Trainee and newly warranted health and safety inspectors usually earn between $61,000 and $66,000 per year.
- Fully trained health and safety inspectors, with at least five years' experience, usually earn between $76,000 and $93,000 per year.
Source: WorkSafe New Zealand, 2017.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)
What you will do
Health and safety inspectors may do some or all of the following:
- assess if workplaces have safe and healthy work practices, and sound health and safety management systems
- assess work activities and practices
- ensure suitable protective equipment, such as hearing protection, is provided and used correctly
- ensure suitable controls are in place to manage workplace risks
- investigate serious harm incidents and accidents, and situations where someone could get hurt or injured
- investigate occupational disease
- write reports about the results of assessments and investigations
- serve notices to get improvements done or shut down workplace processes
- take legal action or give evidence in court when necessary.
Skills and knowledge
Health and safety inspectors need to have:
- knowledge of health and safety acts and regulations, and how to interpret them
- an understanding of safe work practices and how risks are managed
- knowledge of health and safety management systems
- knowledge of hazardous substances used in workplaces and their adverse effects
- the ability to conduct investigations and prepare cases for prosecution
- the ability to educate and influence others.
Health and safety inspectors:
- usually work regular business hours. However, they sometimes work evenings and weekends and may be rostered on call after hours
- travel when required, especially during the first two years of their career to attend training courses
- work indoors and outdoors, visiting locations such as shops, factories, construction sites, mines and forests
- may work in conditions that are noisy, dirty, confined or hazardous, and with challenging people.
What's the job really like?
Find out about being a health and safety inspector – 2.02 mins.
[Why were you interested in the job?]
I enjoy working with people. I had followed the Pike River tragedy on the media and the subsequent inquiries. When the job came up, I felt that I was suited to that role.
[What sort of person is suited to the role?]
Someone who is keen to learn new things and develop as an individual. Be able to work with a diverse range of people. Be able to influence people to make change. Someone that works well under pressure and manages confrontation well and someone that wants to make a genuine difference in the community.
[What does the training involve?]
In the first six months there are a number of requirements that you must fulfil in order to gain your certificate of employment. You will complete a number of learning modules, workbooks, and online assessments. The topics range of legislation right through to machine safety. These lead into workshops. There are also three exams that you must pass – there's an 80 percent pass rate, and the exams cover legislation, machine safety, and occupational health.
At your home office you'll be buddied-up with one or more experienced inspectors, who you'll accompany on site visits. As you progress through the courses and your knowledge level increases, you'll be expected to participate more in the site visits.
To become a qualified health and safety inspector, you need to have:
- a full, clean driver's licence
- the ability to drive a manual car
- passed a police check.
If you are accepted, you then:
- work as a trainee health and safety inspector and complete at least 12 months of on-the-job study and practical training to achieve a WorkSafe New Zealand Identity Card
- work as an assistant health and safety inspector
- complete six to 12 months further on-the-job training and study to gain a Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Enforcement Officer Warrant
- apply for promotion to become a fully qualified health and safety inspector.
- New Zealand Transport Authority website - information on driver's licences
- WorkSafe New Zealand website - information about careers at WorkSafe New Zealand
There are no specific secondary education requirements to become a health and safety inspector, but NCEA Level 2 maths and English are useful.
Health and safety inspectors need to be:
- good at problem solving and analysis, with excellent judgement
- good at making decisions
- good at oral and written communication
- able to keep information confidential
- enquiring and alert, with an eye for detail and an ability to learn new things
- firm, fair and impartial
- able to relate to and work with people from a range of cultures and backgrounds
- able to stay calm and work well under pressure and without supervision
- able to cope with accident scenes and to deal with stress and conflict.
Useful experience for health and safety inspectors includes:
- risk management
- interpreting laws and regulations
- compliance, investigation or enforcement work
- occupational health experience, such as occupational nursing
- technical or scientific work
- working with legal systems and processes
- health and safety management.
Health and safety inspectors need to have a good level of fitness as they may need to bend, climb and work in confined spaces.
Qualified health and safety inspectors need to hold a WorkSafe New Zealand Identity Card and a Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Enforcement Officer Warrant.
Find out more about training
- Employers and Manufacturers Association
- (09) 367 0909 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.ema.co.nz
Check out related courses
What are the chances of getting a job?
Staff turnover low and limited trainee positions
Vacancies for health and safety inspectors are limited as most people find the job rewarding and stay in the role for a long time.
A limited number of people are accepted as trainee health and safety inspectors each year. In 2016, eight trainees were recruited and WorkSafe New Zealand intends to recruit about 25 in 2017. Competition for trainee positions is high, with around 100 applications per role.
Experience in specific areas helps your chances of employment
WorkSafe New Zealand is looking for people with expertise in:
- oil, gas and mining
- occupational health.
One employer of health and safety inspectors
All health and safety inspectors are employed by WorkSafe New Zealand.
- Bolter, K, principal business adviser, WorkSafe New Zealand, Careers New Zealand interview, January 2017.
- Purdie, J, recruitment manager, WorkSafe New Zealand, Careers New Zealand interview, September 2016.
- WorkSafe New Zealand website, accessed October 2016, (www.worksafe.govt.nz).
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)
Progression and specialisations
Once qualified, health and safety inspectors may work in one of three teams:
Health and safety inspectors can also progress to become technical specialists or managers within WorkSafe New Zealand.
Last updated 12 January 2024