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Workplace inspections

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) and the Electrical Safety Office (ESO) inspectors visit workplaces to respond to health and safety incidents, electrical safety incidents and to monitor and enforce compliance with the:

Inspectors undertake workplace visits using observation, discussion and review of documents to make an assessment of the level of risk and extent of compliance. These visits may be initiated by state-wide compliance campaigns (e.g. safety blitzes), workplace assessments (e.g. audits and inspections) or in response to incident notifications or complaint.

Inspectors will not give prior notice of entry to a workplace except in specific circumstances (e.g. remote sites where it is necessary to ensure someone is on site or where it is necessary to ensure a particular person is available) and where advance notice will not compromise the intention of the visit.

Why do inspectors visit?

WHSO and ESO inspectors visit workplaces for a variety of reasons:

  • investigate workplace incidents
  • investigate reports of unsafe, or unhealthy conditions and dangerous work practices
  • assess workplace health and safety and electrical safety risks to workers and members of the public
  • conduct inspections and national, statewide and regional audit campaigns
  • provide information and advice on the legislation
  • resolve work health and safety issues
  • resolve right of entry and workplace access disputes
  • review disputed provisional improvement notices.

During the visit

Prior to the inspection

WHSQ and ESO inspectors carry photo identification at all times and must be clearly displayed as soon as they enter a workplace. People who are not inspectors (e.g. technical experts, interpreters or police officers) may also accompany an inspector.

During the inspection

Upon entering a workplace, WHSQ and ESO inspectors will immediately notify the employer or the most senior management person on site and any relevant health and safety representatives for workers at that workplace. This notification will include the:

  • focus of the visit
  • inspection process that will be followed.

Having entered a workplace, a WHSQ and ESO inspector may:

  • inspect or examine any part of the workplace
  • observe or search any part of the workplace (e.g. use of a machine or work processes)
  • take measurements
  • take photographs or film anything at the workplace
  • conduct tests (e.g. presence of lead in paint)
  • take samples of things (e.g. substances used at the workplace)
  • request a person or other persons to produce certain documents (e.g. maintenance records kept by a mechanic contracted by an employer to do the work)
  • obtain copies of documents (e.g. training records, manufacturers instructions)
  • undertake enquiries or conduct surveys to assess the degree of risk or standards of health and safety
  • talk to managers, supervisors, workers and other people when an incident has occurred
  • enquire into circumstances and probable causes of workplace incidents
  • require a person to give reasonable help
  • seize things as part of the investigation at the workplace.

During workplace visits inspectors may identify contraventions that the duty holder can rectify in the presence of the inspector to achieve immediate compliance. Immediate rectification of contraventions will be recorded by the Inspector and noted on the employer/workplace’s record. Contraventions that cannot be immediately rectified will result in a notice to remedy.

After the inspection

At the end of a visit, the WHSQ and ESO inspector will:

  • summarise possible outcomes for the employer (or the most senior management person at the workplace)
  • explain any action that needs to be taken by the employer
  • explain any notices issued
  • inform workplace health and safety representative/s for the employer of any outcomes.

An inspection report summarising the inspection findings, may be provided to the employer from the WHSQ and ESO inspector.

What to expect when an inspector calls (PDF, 4535.96 KB) provides more information about workplace visits.

Enforcement action

WHSQ has a number of enforcement measures available to direct compliance or sanction non-compliance. These measures work as an effective incentive for compliant behaviour and as a deterrent to non-compliance.

When taking enforcement action the WHSQ and ESO inspector will explain to the employer:

  • the reason for taking such action on any notices issued
  • any evidence on which they have based their decision
  • what you should do to comply with any actions
  • where you can get some guidance on how to comply with any actions
  • the due date in which you should comply with any notices issued.

When issuing a notice, an inspector will provide information to support understanding of the notice. This information will be provided verbally and, in some instances, may be confirmed or expanded upon in writing (e.g. by email). Such information should include clear explanation of the contravention and a brief explanation of what compliance looks like i.e. the evidence the inspector will be looking for to determine whether the notice is complied with.

Note: If you are not completely clear about an explanation, please ask the WHSQ and ESO inspector to clarify themselves.

Last updated
24 October 2019

Codes of Practice are now an enforceable standard to manage hazards and risks

A Work Health and Safety inspector may refer to an approved code of practice when issuing an improvement or prohibition notice.

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Updated work safety codes of practice enforceable from 1 July 2018

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