Inspectors have unfettered power to enter any workplace or suspected workplace or any place where specified high risk plant is situated (i.e. amusement rides, cooling towers, escalators). Inspectors also have the power to enter land around domestic premises to gain access to a workplace or suspected workplace.
Inspectors can also enter any place with a warrant or the property owner's consent.
To gain consent, the inspector must tell the occupier:
the purpose of entry
that consent does not have to be given.
If consent is given, the inspector may ask the occupier to sign an acknowledgement of the consent and will give the occupier a copy of this acknowledgement.
An inspector can also apply to a magistrate for a warrant to enter a place to exercise inspectors' powers.
Every appointed inspector holds an identity card which shows a recent photo of the inspector and is signed by the inspector. Before exercising a power (including entry into the workplace) inspectors must show their identity card.
Following entry to a place, inspectors have the power to:
search any part of the place
inspect, measure, test, photograph or film any part of the workplace or anything at the workplace
copy a document at the workplace
make enquiries or conduct surveys to assess the degree of risk at the workplace or the standards of health and safety existing at a workplace
inquire into the circumstances and probable causes of workplace incidents
take any person, equipment or materials into the workplace to assist the inspector to exercise a power
require a person to give reasonable help
require a person to produce certain documents or ask other people to provide these documents, for example maintenance records kept by a mechanic contracted by an employer to do the work).
Inspectors also have specific powers to seize things - such as plant, equipment or substances - in the following circumstances:
where the inspector believes the thing is evidence of an offence against the Act
if seizing the thing is consistent with the purpose of entry
where a warrant was issued for the seizure
if the inspector believes the thing is defective, hazardous or likely to cause an injury.
Inspectors can also seize workplaces or part of the workplace if it is believed to be defective or hazardous.
These are workplace representatives, generally nominated by their peers, with a reporting responsibility to ensure their workplace is both safe and meets the required standards in respect to health and cleanliness.
They have an advising role to both management and fellow staff and often facilitate change.
They will normally be the nominated employee who accompanies any health and safety inspector that may visit the workplace.
Workplace Health and Safety Officers (WHSO) Workplace health and safety officers (WHSO) are appointed by employers and principal contractors where there are 30 or more people at the workplace to provide advice about workplace health and safety. They carry out inspections and audits, set up educational programs about workplace health and safety, help investigate all workplace incidents and conduct annual workplace assessments. WHSOs require special training.
Refer to Part 8 of the Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995 (PDF, 766 kB) for specific requirements in relation to WHSOs.
Workplace health and safety representatives (WHSR) are elected by fellow workers.
Representatives are entitled to carry out inspections and review the circumstances of workplace incidents. They are also entitled to participate in the workplace health and safety committee. A workplace health and safety representative does not need any experience or special qualifications, but is entitled to be paid training on request.
Workplace health safety representatives can also issue Provisional Improvement Notices (PIN) in their own workplaces. A PIN is a written direction from a WHSR to an employer (or employer representative) requiring them to fix a workplace health and safety problem. A PIN is a legal document and is designed to improve health and safety in a workplace, encouraging employers and workers to openly discuss health and safety hazards and risks in their workplace.
Refer to Part 7 of the Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995 for specific requirements in relation to WHSRs
Health and Safety Committees These Committees are required to be formed in any workplace with more than 30 employees, or wherever the Department requests the formation of a committee due to the high risk nature of a specific workplace.
An employer or principal contractor may establish a workplace health and safety committee for a workplace.
An employer or principal contractor must establish a workplace health and safety committee for a workplace if:
a workplace health and safety representative for the workplace asks the representative’s employer or the principal contractor to establish a committee; or
for a workplace where work of a particularly hazardous nature is carried out, the chief executive directs by written notice given to the employer or principal contractor.
An employer or principal contractor must establish the workplace health and safety committee within 28 days of the request or direction.
However, if a workplace health and safety officer is appointed for a workplace, the principal contractor must establish the workplace health and safety committee within 7 days of the appointment.
More than 1 committee may be established for a workplace.
Workplace health and safety committees help in the cooperation between employers and workers. A committee member must be an employer, principal contractor or worker at the workplace.
A committee considers health and safety issues and reports on these to the employer. An employer may form a workplace health and safety committee on his or her own initiative, but must do so if the WHSR requests it.
Refer to Part 7 of the Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995 for specific requirements in relation to workplace health and safety committees.