When an inspector calls
Inspectors have the legal right to enter, at any time, any workplace including aircraft, ships and vehicles where employees work or are likely to be in the course of their work. This right means inspectors have unrestricted access to workplaces, excepting where there is a statutory restriction.
On entering a workplace, an inspector will take all reasonable steps to notify the employer or person in control of the workplace of his or her presence. The employer or person in control of the business or undertaking must then notify any elected safety and health representatives (if there are any) at the workplace.
When an inspector visits a workplace, they carry out an inspection for WorkSafe’s seven priority areas in most instances and where they are relevant. They will also consider other hazards observed during the inspection.
WorkSafe’s ‘priority areas’ are:
- working at heights;
- manual tasks (particularly lifting);
- machine guarding;
- mobile plant; and
- slips, trips and falls.
Refer to priority areas (areas of focus) for more information.
An inspector may take into the workplace any equipment, materials or persons to assist in the inspection, and may also require from the employer or person at the workplace any assistance considered necessary. This includes being accompanied by the employer, safety and health representatives or an employee (where there is no safety and health representative) during the inspection.
The inspector then conducts the examination and inquiry as necessary for the purposes of the OSH Act. This may include:
- examining any plant, substance or thing;
- taking possession of any plant or thing;
- taking photos, measurements, sketches or recordings and informing the employer and safety and health representative of this, including when and where they may be viewed;
- requiring the production of any document or extracts of documents;
- examining and taking copies of documents;
- providing information; and
- interviewing, either in private or otherwise, any person at the workplace, or any person who has been at the workplace in the last three years, and taking a statutory declaration from them.
The inspector has the power to require that the workplace, or any part of it, be left undisturbed for as long as is specified by the inspector.
When leaving the site, the inspector will inform the employer, person in control of the business or undertaking and safety and health representative(s) if there are any action the inspector has taken or will be taking.
The fact that an inspector has inspected a particular workplace is not a representation by WorkSafe that the particular workplace is in any way approved or free of hazards.
It is an offence to obstruct, threaten or interfere with an inspector who is undertaking duties in accordance with the OSH Act.