Richard Hardy, a Prospect official, said the inspectors had voted two to one in favour of a strike and nearly nine to one in favour of a work to rule.
The union is due to meet conciliation service Acas on 15 March at the HSE headquarters in Bootle, Merseyside.
The union is not expected to set a date for the industrial action until it has met the dispute resolution body.
A spokesperson for the HSE said that 758 of the 1700 union members voted for the action, the rest abstained, voted against or spoiled the ballot paper.
He called into question what a strike could achieve but applauded the union's decision not to take action until it had gone through the dispute resolutions procedure.
Prospect has demanded that the inspectors be given an annual pay rise of at least 2.6% in January or that it would activate its disputes procedure.
The HSE is currently offering a complicated pay deal based on hierarchy scales. It is understood that staff at the top of the pay scale would receive only 1.5%.
The union argues that this will lead to an exodus of experienced staff and compromise the safety of site workers.