What to expect when your workplace is inspected by WorkSafe

To put it simply, health and safety regulators (WorkSafe) work with you and your workers to keep you safe and healthy. Their main goal is to ensure that New Zealand businesses are safe and healthy places to be. But be warned, 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? 

Typically a visit from WorkSafe follows a four-step process: 

Step 1: Conversation

A friendly chat isn’t that scary, right? When the WorkSafe inspector first arrives, they’ll sit down with you and 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. 

Step 2: Observation

Following the chat, the inspector will take a walk around your worksite to see if what they’ve heard from you matches up with what they actually see happening. 

Step 3: Examination

If the inspector sees anything concerning while on their walkabout, they will follow up with you to go into more detail to discover the cause of the issue. 

Step 4: Documentation

At this stage, the inspector might ask to see what kind of systems and processes you keep. This could include anything from your worker’s licenses or training certificates, machine maintenance logs, to incident reports. The focus will be on whether your records and systems support good health and safety practices for your worksite, workers and business. 

 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. 

  • An infringement notice is rarely issued (usually only following serious harm, or a fatality) and can lead to prosecution. 
  • Prohibition notices are for more serious issues such as advising you to stop using a certain piece of machinery until changes are made, or a replacement is found. 
  • Improvement notices are the most common type of notice which explains what the inspector has identified, how things need to change and the timeframe in which it needs to be completed. 

Sometimes, they will issue you with an improvement notice which explains what needs to be changed and the timeframe those changes need to be made by. However, if their concerns are more serious, the inspector could tell you to stop using a dangerous piece of machinery and issue you with a prohibition notice.  In extremely rare circumstances (usually only following serious harm or death) an inspector may issue an infringement notice, which could lead to prosecution. 

Using HazardCo can cut the time you spend on health and safety admin in half and will guide you through what you need to do to keep your crew and your business safe. 

Of course, if there are any questions or concerns, just call us at HazardCo for help on 0800 555 339.