Health and Safety Inspector

Health and safety inspectors' work includes the supervision and safeguarding of environmental sanitation, food, water supplies, housing conditions and the prevention of disease.

They are employed to monitor, maintain and protect health and safety standards in accordance with current legislation. A large amount of time is spent visiting properties such as factories, farms, offices, schools, quarries and shops, where premises, equipment and procedures are checked for compliance with health and safety legislation. Responsibilities of the job include investigating accidents, complaints and cases of ill-health, serving legal notices, writing reports, recording infringements of the law, providing advice and recommendations, gathering and preparing legal evidence and providing prosecution evidence in court.

It is their duty to ensure a safe water, milk and food supplies, inspect establishments where food, drugs and cosmetics are made, handled, stored, sold or conveyed, investigate the structural and sanitary conditions of premises, personal cleanliness and handling of products, inspect non-food business premises and private premises, and carry out slum clearance and pest control. 

They take samples of water, milk, food and other substances regularly and run tests, keep records, submit reports, attend to correspondence and licence applications, peruse building plans, compile statements for prosecutions, attend meetings and investigate complaints.

State health inspectors initiate educational programmes. They also put into operation immunisation services, health campaigns and tuberculosis control, as well as advise local authorities on community health.

Health inspectors may specialise in one particular area on a rotation basis, such as food control, slum clearance, pest control, institutions, milk control, etc.

Health inspectors work in many different settings. They travel from one establishment to another for inspection purposes but usually have their own offices where reports are prepared.  The job can require working in polluted, noisy, filthy or dangerous conditions and involves enforcing legislation.  

Employers look for people who are calm, assertive and resilient, with excellent communication, team-working and interpersonal skills. Candidates must be capable of acquiring and retaining detailed legal, technical and commercial information.

Personal Requirements

  • keen interest in the general health of the population
  • concerned about the food for human consumption
  • want to improve the living conditions of the community
  • enjoy working with people
  • able to accept responsibility
  • honest and objective
  • good judgement and the ability to organise
  • sound knowledge of health care systems

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

National Senior Certificate for diploma course

What to Study

Public Health courses are offered by Wits, UL, UP and UCT. A post-graduate qualification may be obtained at e.g. UNISA.

Registration with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) is mandatory for this occupation. Consult the HPCSA website for the most up-to-date information relating to accredited qualifications and registration requirements. This information can be found in the relevant sections under the Professional Board of Environmental Health.


  • municipalities
  • Department of National Health and Population Development
  • Transnet
  • SABS
  • SA Defence Force
  • mines
  • Department of Agriculture

Further Information

Department of Health
Civitas Building
Cnr Thabo Sehume and Struben Streets 
Tel: (012) 395-8000

Getting Started

  • try to get vacation work to gain experience working with people
  • arrange to speak to a health inspector about this type of career

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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