Hazardous materials inspectors inspect facilities which handle hazardous materials to ensure compliance to health and safety regulations, and hazardous materials handling legislation. They investigate violations, oversee tests of emergency and risk response plans, and consult on the improvement of the facilities’ operations and procedures, as well as on hazardous materials regulations. They also advise plants on potential sources of danger to a community, and on better safety regulations.
Hazardous materials inspectors typically perform the following duties:
- Conduct inspections of facilities to ensure compliance with hazardous materials regulations
- Investigate and respond to complaints related to hazardous materials
- Monitor the storage, handling, and disposal of hazardous materials
- Collect and analyze samples of hazardous materials to determine compliance with regulations
- Work with facility managers to ensure safe and proper handling of hazardous materials
- Maintain accurate records of inspections and investigations
- Provide guidance and training to facility staff regarding hazardous materials regulations and safety protocols
The following job titles also refer to hazardous materials inspector:
waste disposal adviser
hazardous waste compliance specialist
hazardous waste disposal specialist
hazardous waste management specialist
solid waste compliance specialist
environmental regulations compliance specialist
hazardous waste inspector
hazmat compliance specialist
environmental compliance specialist
industrial waste analyst
hazardous waste control specialist
Hazardous materials inspectors work both indoors and outdoors, traveling to various facilities to conduct inspections. The job can be physically demanding, requiring the ability to climb ladders, lift heavy equipment, and work in confined spaces. They may also be required to wear personal protective equipment such as respirators or hazmat suits. Inspectors may work for government agencies, private consulting firms, or industry associations.
A bachelor’s degree in environmental science, chemistry, or a related field is typically required for this position, along with relevant experience in fields such as hazardous waste management, environmental compliance, or occupational health and safety. Certification programs are available through professional organizations and can enhance job prospects. Strong analytical skills, attention to detail, and knowledge of environmental regulations are essential for success in this field.
ISCO skill level
ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:
- the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
- the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
- the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.
Hazardous materials inspector is a Skill level 3 occupation.
Hazardous materials inspector career path
These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to hazardous materials inspector.
Long term prospects
These occupations require some skills and knowledge of hazardous materials inspector. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of hazardous materials inspector with a significant experience and/or extensive training.
Essential knowledge and skills
This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of hazardous materials inspector.
- Appropriate packaging of dangerous goods: Know that packaging for different types of dangerous goods (other than for limited and excepted quantities) must be designed and constructed to UN specification standards and pass practical transport related tests, such as being dropped, stored in a stack, and being subjected to pressure. It must also meet the needs of the materials it is to contain. Packaging must be certified by a competent authority.
- Radioactive contamination: The different causes of the presence of radioactive substances in liquids, solids, or gases or on surfaces, and the manner in which to identify the types of contaminants, their risks, and the contaminants’ concentration.
- Hazardous materials transportation: Regulations and safety procedures which are involved in the transportation of hazardous materials and products, such as hazardous waste, chemicals, explosives, and flammable materials.
- Waste management: The methods, materials and regulations used to collect, transport, treat and dispose of waste. This includes recycling and monitoring of waste disposal.
- Hazardous waste treatment: The methods applied in the treatment and disposal of hazardous waste such as asbestos, dangerous chemicals, and various contaminants, as well as the surrounding environmental regulations and legislation.
- Hazardous waste types: The different types of waste which poses risks to the environment or public health and safety, such as radioactive waste, chemicals and solvents, electronics, and mercury-containing waste.
- Pollution prevention: The processes used to prevent pollution: precautions to pollution of the environment, procedures to counter pollution and associated equipment, and possible measures to protect the environment.
- Waste and scrap products: The offered waste and scrap products, their functionalities, properties and legal and regulatory requirements.
- Hazardous waste storage: The regulations and procedures surrounding the safekeeping of materials and substances which pose health and safety risks.
Essential skills and competences
These skills are necessary for the role of hazardous materials inspector.
- Perform risk analysis: Identify and assess factors that may jeopardise the success of a project or threaten the organisation’s functioning. Implement procedures to avoid or minimise their impact.
- Ensure compliance with waste legislative regulations: Implement and monitor company procedures for the collection, transport and disposal of waste, in compliance with all regulations and legal requirements.
- Develop hazardous waste management strategies: Develop strategies which aim to increase the efficiency in which a facility treats, transports, and disposes of hazardous waste materials, such as radioactive waste, chemicals, and electronics.
- Inspect compliance with hazardous waste regulations: Inspect an organisation’s or facility’s strategies which deal with the management of hazardous waste in order to ensure that their actions are compliant with relevant legislation and that measures are taken to improve protection from exposure, and ensure health and safety.
- Revise certifications for dangerous good transportation: Check if the goods to be transported and their certifications meet regulations , ensure that certifications correspond to the goods. Drivers must ensure that they secure the load to their vehicle, which for dangerous goods requires a signed packing certificate (this certificate may form part of the Dangerous Goods Note).
- Ensure material compliance: Ensure that the materials provided by suppliers comply with the specified requirements.
- Implement environmental protection measures: Enforce environmental criteria to prevent environmental damage. Strive for the efficient use of resources in order to prevent waste and reduce costs. Motivate colleagues to take relevant steps to operate in an environmentally friendly manner.
- Advise on waste management procedures: Advise organisations on the implementation of waste regulations and on improvement strategies for waste management and waste minimisation, to increase environmentally sustainable practices and environmental awareness.
Optional knowledge and skills
This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of hazardous materials inspector. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Waste transport legislation: Regulations and legislation concerning the safe transportation of hazardous and non-hazardous waste materials, products, and appliances.
- Hazards associated with loading dangerous goods: Know about the hazards implied with the transport of determined dangerous goods. Know about the emergency actions and handling procedures in case of accidents with the goods during their loading or transportation.
- Pollution legislation: Be familiar with European and National legislation regarding the risk of pollution.
- Import export regulations of dangerous chemicals: The international and national legal rules for exporting and importing dangerous chemicals.
- Hazardous freight regulations: Know the most widely applied regulatory schemes for the transportation of dangerous materials. Know specific regulatory frameworks such as IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR) for air transport, or International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (“IMDG Code”) for transportation of hazardous materials by sea.
- Radiation protection: The measures and procedures used to protect people and the environment from the harmful effects of ionising radiation.
Optional skills and competences
These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of hazardous materials inspector. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Inspect hazardous freight in accordance with regulations: Inspect and take into account regulations on hazardous or delicate freight such as biomedical waste, transplant organs, and blood. Freight may have to cross national borders on its journey to its destination. Comply with legal freight regulations to avoid fines for the transportation company or the organisation that initiated the shipment.
- Select hazard control: Perform appropriate selection of hazard control measures and risk management
- Educate on recycling regulations: Educate organisations and individuals on the correct procedures and legislation concerning the recycling of different types of waste in different types of containers, waste collection procedures, and on the sanctions following non-compliance to legislation.
- Issue licences: Issue official documentation which grants licence holders with official permission to perform certain activities, after having investigated the application and processed the necessary documentation.
- Advise on pollution prevention: Advise individuals and organisations on the development and implementation of actions which aid in the prevention of pollution and its related risks.
- Carry out environmental audits: Use equipment to measure various environmental parameters in order to identify environmental problems and investigate manners in which they can be resolved. Perform inspections in order to ensure compliance with environmental legislation.
- Wear appropriate protective gear: Wear relevant and necessary protective gear, such as protective goggles or other eye protection, hard hats, safety gloves.
- Educate on hazardous waste: Educate the public or specific organisations on the importance of correct handling of hazardous waste in order to promote public safety, ensure compliance with legislation, and raise awareness of the different types of hazardous waste and their threats to public health and safety as well as the environment.
- Educate on emergency management: Educate communities, organisations, or individuals on risk management and emergency response, such as how to develop and implement prevention and reaction strategies, and educate on emergency policies specific to the risks applicable to that area or organisation.
- Develop recycling programs: Develop and coordinate recycling programs; collect and process recyclable materials in order to reduce waste.
- Monitor legislation developments: Monitor changes in rules, policies and legislation, and identify how they may influence the organisation, existing operations, or a specific case or situation.
- Train staff on recycling programs: Train employees on the type of recycling methods and programs available for a company and all its procedures and policies that should be taken account of.
- Test safety strategies: Test policies and strategies related to risk and safety management and procedures, such as testing evacuation plans, safety equipment, and carrying out drills.
- Train staff on waste management: Train the staff of a facility which deals with waste management, or an organisation’s staff responsible for waste management strategies, on the improvements that can be made to reduce waste, increase efficiency of waste treatment and disposal, and ensure compliance with waste and environmental legislation.
- Develop contingency plans for emergencies: Compose procedures outlining specific actions to be taken in the event of an emergency, taking into account all the risks and dangers that could be involved, ensuring that the plans comply with safety legislation and represent the safest course of action.
ISCO group and title
3257 – Environmental and occupational health inspectors and associates
- Hazardous materials inspector – ESCO
- Hazardous materials inspector | Electronic Code of Federal Regulations – Cornell Law School
- Hazardous Materials Inspector | Federal Railroad Administration
- Featured image: By FEMA/Win Henderson – This image is from the FEMA Photo Library (obsolete as of 2019). Public Domain