Preparing for a visit by an inspector from the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development
Each year the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development issues over 100,000 contraventions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and regulations [source]. A visit by an enforcement inspector can seem intimidating, but if you are prepared and know what to expect, it can make the experience a lot better.
When the inspector arrives
An inspector will ask to speak with a manager or whoever manages health and safety for your workplace. They will also want to talk with the worker member of the Joint Health and Safety Committee or the Health and Safety Representative.
Have your documents ready
The inspector may begin by reviewing documents that are mandatory for businesses to display in the workplace, including
- health and safety policy
- workplace violence and harassment policy
- Health and Safety at Work poster
- a copy of the Occupational Health and Safety Act
- a list of Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) members
They may also review other documents such as emergency procedures, JHSC minutes, workplace inspection reports, records for health and safety training of workers, first aid reports, Safety Data Sheets (SDS), and incident reports.
These documents should always be readily available and organized to save you time and avoid the need to scramble during a visit.
Walking the workplace
The inspector will inspect your workplace together with the JHSC worker representative or Health and Safety Representative. They will look for contraventions of the Act and regulations.
The nature of the inspection will vary depending on the regulations that apply to your industry, the hazards of your workplace, and the reason for the visit. The inspector may verbally inform you of any concerns, or they may issue a formal order to comply.
Powers of the inspector
The inspector can ask anyone in the workplace questions. They can also test or use any equipment, machine, or material in the workplace and take samples of anything. They also have the power to review and make copies of documents or records and take photographs and measurements.
What types of orders could be issued?
The inspector can issue an order if contraventions of the Act or regulations are found. The following are the most common types of compliance orders:
- Time-based order: An order that includes a deadline date by which the workplace must have the problem fixed. The inspector may physically return to verify that the issue has been corrected or may request you send follow-up documentation as proof.
- Forthwith order: If a hazardous condition is spotted and can be addressed on the spot before the inspector leaves, your workplace may receive a forthwith order. For example, an inspector could witness a machine guard that has been moved or wooden pallets scattered on the floor, creating risk to workers. In this case, they may order the guard to be returned to its position or the pallets to be stacked neatly away from foot traffic.
- Stop-work order: An inspector can issue a stop-work order when a serious hazard has been identified that can cause significant injury or illness. A stop-work order means that work in the area must stop immediately until the issue is resolved and the inspector is satisfied. These orders are serious, can impact production, and result in injury or illness if not addressed.
The inspector’s report
Before leaving, the inspector provides a written report that describes the purpose of their visit, who was present, observations and findings, a listing of all orders issued, and a deadline for compliance if applicable. The report must be posted in the workplace for people to see for at least 14 days.
How to respond to an order
If your workplace has been issued an order, it’s important that you fully understand the inspector’s requests and begin to work on a compliance plan immediately. A Notice of Compliance form will also be provided to you. Once your workplace has implemented measures to address the order, the Notice of Compliance form must be signed by a worker representative on the JHSC, indicating they are either in agreement or in disagreement with the compliance outcome, and returned to the inspector.
The Notice of Compliance does not mean compliance has been met. Only an inspector can make this determination after receiving the Notice of Compliance.
Call WorkBright™ today and discuss how we can help your business reduce the likelihood of serious compliance issues before a Ministry visit. We will help you plan how best to achieve compliance following a visit by the Ministry.