My Education: UMF, USAC in Guatemala
My Prior Experience: I worked as a project engineer for a telecommunications company, then took a job in the food industry as a quality supervisor and industrial engineer.
My Company: I work for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), performing inspections at factories and construction sites.
Job/Career Overview: My primary responsibility is to perform safety and health inspections at different job sites in order to identify hazards in the work place. I then make recommendations to the employers about ways to correct and eliminate the hazards I've found. As part of the process of conducting inspections, I evaluate employers' safety and health programs in situ and take complaints from employees who say they're being exposed to hazardous conditions. I do chemical sampling and noise sampling when employees work in hazardous environments, and evaluate employees' exposures to determine if conditions pose a threat to their health. I send the samples I've obtained to private laboratories to be analyzed, obtain the results and advise employers on ways of eliminating or correcting hazardous conditions. Less often, I investigate workplace fatalities and employee accidents.
I also perform inspections from media referrals and provide assistance and training in safety and health issues, write technical reports and evaluations after completing my inspections and issue citations and penalties of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). I also help employers and employees to understand the OSHA regulations taking phone calls from both employers and employees.
More Insights: I feel good knowing that my job helps other people to be safe and healthy.
Some people think that Safety and Health Inspectors care only about issuing fines to employers and hurting the company's reputation, but in reality improving work conditions can help a company cut the costs of workers compensation insurance and save money on property destruction. But our paramount concern, of course, is the overall safety of employees.
If I could do it all over again, I think I'd take a writing course to improve my writing.
You need to be self-motivated and a good investigator, always finding the "root cause." But it doesn't hurt either to be a "people person" and an all-around nice fellow.
A student would benefit from seeing different construction and manufacturing processes close up.
I rate this career 8 out of 10.
The best part of the job is the opportunity it gives me to evaluate workplaces and make corrections in order that the employees have a safety and health environment. I almost always have the sense that I am helping society by improving overall safety in the workplace.
The worst part of the job is that I sometimes get to see fatalities and have to document how, why and when they happened. And interviewing relatives of the deceased or injured employees is sometimes hard.
Be sure to study math, chemistry and physics. As an engineer I can do a lot of calculations that are very helpful during the inspections and investigations.
Studying a second language has been very helpful to me, since I often have to interview employees who don't speak English. Being bilingual has opened a lot of doors for me.