To put it simply, health and safety regulators (WorkSafe / SafeWork) work with you and your workers to keep you safe and healthy. Their main goal is to ensure that across Australia, businesses are safe and healthy environments. It’s important to know that not all visits are pre-arranged and inspectors are allowed to show up at any reasonable time, regardless of whether or not you’re there. So, what should you expect when they come a-knocking?
What does a site visit look like?
Typically a visit from WorkSafe/SafeWork follows the below process:
Step 1: Conversation
A friendly chat isn’t that scary, right? When the WorkSafe/SafeWork inspector first arrives, they’ll have a conversation. This discussion is a two-way street where they’ll be looking to learn about your business, what risks you’ve identified, the actions you’re completing to minimise them and answer any questions you may have. Ensure you use this opportunity to ask questions and seek clarification if anything doesn’t make sense.
Step 2: Observation
Following the chat, the inspector will usually take a walk around your worksite to have a look around. Sometimes its a general walk around, other times it may be focusing on a particular area or activity.
If the inspector sees anything concerning during the walkabout, they will discuss this with you further.
Step 3: Processes and Documentation
At this stage, the inspector might ask to see what kind of processes and safe practices you have. This could include anything from your risk assessments, worker’s licenses or training certificates, machine maintenance logs, to incident reports. The focus will be on whether your processes and records demonstrate good health and safety practices for your worksite, workers and business.
So what are inspectors allowed to do during the visit?
Inspectors have the right to:
- ask you, your employees or other people questions
- take photographs, recordings and measurements
- ask to see your documents, make copies or take the documents
- take items away with them for examination, testing or for use as evidence
What happens if an issue is found?
If the inspector does find an issue, you and the inspector will discuss what needs to be done to fix it. The three main outcomes issued by the inspector are an improvement notice, prohibition notice, or an infringement notice.
- Improvement notices – The most common type of notice which directs a person to address an identified health and safety risk in a specified time. The inspector will explain what was identified, how things need to change, and the timeframe in which it needs to be completed.
- Prohibition notices – Directs the business to stop doing a particular thing that involves a serious risk to health or safety. For example, stopping a specific activity or instructing you to stop using a dangerous piece of machinery. The notice will tell you what needs to be fixed.
- An infringement notice – This notice, or fine, is a penalty for breaking the law. Depending on your state or territory it can include an on-the-spot fine for breaching certain health and safety laws and may lead to prosecution.
Using HazardCo can cut the time you spend on health and safety admin in half and can guide you through what you need to do to keep your workers and your business safe.
Of course, if there are any questions or concerns, just call us at HazardCo for help on 1800 954 702.