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Inspectors, entry powers and conduct

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) and Electrical Safety Office (ESO) inspectors are appointed primarily to help employers:

  • develop and improve systems of work
  • prevent their staff from being injured or becoming ill as a result of their daily work activities.

Inspectors come from diverse backgrounds. Some have trade experience, and some will have tertiary qualifications in occupational health and safety-related disciplines. Electrical safety inspectors are all trained electricians.

Inspectors undertake induction, on the job coaching, mentoring and training on a broad range of issues in the workplace including manual handling, hazardous substances, construction, noise and electrical safety.

Inspector's entry powers

WHSQ and ESO inspectors have particular legal powers under the following legislation to enter any workplace:

Inspectors have the power to enter any workplace that:

  • is authorised by a search warrant
  • is used for carrying out work that involves the storage and handling of dangerous goods
  • is used for carrying out work that involves the operation, use and storing of high risk plant that affects public safety
  • is covered by the Commonwealth WHS Act if the inspector believes it is necessary to do so to help any enquiries covered in the WHS and SRWA Act.

An inspector can enter with or without the consent of the person with management or control of the place and without prior notice to any person unless the place is used only for residential purposes and does not involve the storage of dangerous goods, high risk plant or access to a workplace.

Residential premises

If WHSQ and ESO inspectors have the power to enter a residential premises:

  • when the inspector reasonably suspects a residential premises is used as a workplace
  • when entry is authorised by a search warrant
  • to gain access to a suspected workplace when:
    • the inspector believes there is no reasonable alternative access available
    • entry is at a reasonable time, having regard to the times the inspector believes the work is being carried out
  • that is used for storing or handling dangerous goods
  • that involves the use or storage of high risk plant that affects public safety.

WHSQ and ESO inspectors carry out their role to minimise disruption to any workplace. However, whenever an incident occurs or dangerous work practices exist, they need to intervene to ensure all persons are safe.

Inspector conduct

WHSQ and ESO inspectors are expected to deliver high quality and professional services in which they:

  1. treat people with respect, dignity, and sensitivity in all circumstances
  2. interact with people in a timely and efficient manner
  3. remain professional and consistent in all of their dealings
  4. undertake activities without favouritism or discrimination
  5. explain all decisions
  6. conduct all activities in accordance with the values outlined in the code of conduct for the Queensland Public Service and the Global Code of Integrity for Labour Inspection . Both these codes provide a framework for inspectors to exercise their powers under the WHS Act, the ES Act and the SRWA Act.

Inspector powers

Inspectors exercising powers under the WHS Act, SRWA Act and ES Act may require a person to:

  • tell the inspector who has custody/access to a document
  • give the inspector the document (where the person has custody/access to a document)
  • answer the inspector's questions (by attending at a reasonable time and place).

Under the WHS Act and SRWA Act, inspectors may, by written notice, require a person toproduce documents, written answers to questions, or attend to answer questions within 30 days after they enter the workplace for the suspected contravention. Where a person is asked to answer questions by an inspector, either party may request that the meeting occur via an audio or audio-visual link (e.g., platforms like Microsoft Teams).

Under the WHS Act, SRWA Act and ES Act, where a person is asked to answer questions by an inspector –

  • either party may request the interview be conducted in private
  • a representative of the person may be present.

Complaints about WHSQ and ESO inspectors

If you feel that an WHSQ and ESO inspector has not delivered a high quality and professional service or if you are not happy with the service you received or you cannot reach a resolution of the problem, you can raise the issue by contacting the regional manager of your nearest regional office location.

The regional manager will investigate your concerns promptly (and tell you what will be done about them). Most concerns are resolved in this way.

If your concerns have not been resolved to your satisfaction are discussing with the regional manager, you can write to the:

Senior Director
Operations and Compliance
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland
GPO Box 69

Reviewing decisions

Some of the WHSQ and ESO inspectors' decisions are reviewable.

If you believe you were not treated fairly you can ask for the decision to be reviewed.