The sight of an OH&S inspector on your doorstep can cause your stomach to drop, but it’s important to remember that their job is just as much about education as it is enforcement. Generally their visit will be unexpected, and could be a routine inspection, following up on a complaint, or due to workplace injuries. The intention of the visit is to ensure the health and safety of your employees.
In most jurisdictions, the OH&S legislation gives inspectors the authority to enter a workplace during working hours without notice. This allows the inspector to get an accurate snapshot of everyday working conditions. Under the legislation you are required to cooperate with the inspector.
As well as looking for immediate hazards (employees not wearing personal protective equipment, trip hazards, broken machinery, etc.) the inspectors will look at a business’ emergency preparedness – first aid kits, fire extinguishers, number of trained first aiders. They will also check to see if posting requirements (policies, procedures) are being followed.
If you are doing your own regular workplace inspections, and following the requirements of the OH&S legislation in your jurisdiction, then a visit from an inspector should be a walk in the park.