Skip to main content

Demystifying workplace inspections

When you hear the phrase “workplace inspections” two things likely spring to mind: a visit from an OH&S inspector, and wandering through your workplace looking for hazards. Both types of inspections can be overwhelming, but they are important tools in preventing accidents and injuries.

There’s no need to worry about inspections – we’re here to help take some of the guesswork out of them, so you can go about your business, safely. 

Effective workplace inspections

Doing a regular inspection of the workplace helps ensure a healthy and safe work environment. There are two types of workplace inspection – formal and informal.

  • Informal inspections are a practiced awareness which identifies potential hazards in daily processes, conditions and activities in the workplace. 
  • Formal inspections are a regularly scheduled examination of the workplace and are conducted with the aid of a checklist and inspection report. 

Informal inspections can be done almost daily – they are really a case of employees recognizing unsafe working conditions (lack of protective equipment, untrained workers, trip/fall hazards, etc.) and either fixing the problem or reporting it to a supervisor.

Formal inspections should be done by a supervisor or the employer and require documentation both of the hazard and what was done to resolve the issue. A checklist  should be drawn up of potential hazards and these should then be checked to ensure the workplace is safe. 

The rules around how often these inspections should be done vary from province to province, so check with your CFIB counsellor for more information. 

A visit from OH&S

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.  

If you’re unsure what your OH&S requirements are, or want to review if you are compliant, contact your Business Counsellor, and visit our article 5 ways your business can improve workplace health and safety for tips and template documents.