Ask the HR Department: Is your business prepared for a surprise health and safety inspection?

By HR and health & safety consultancy Peninsula Canada

Under every Occupational Health and Safety legislation in Canada, employers must take all reasonable precautions to ensure the health and safety of their employees. Workplace inspections are meant to help prevent incidents, injuries, and illnesses. These inspections help to identify and record hazards for corrective action to ensure employees in the province are staying safe while working.

What types of hazards should employers be looking for in the workplace? Hazards are dependent on the type of business and workplace an employer runs. The major hazards can be broken down into the following categories:

  • Chemical hazards caused by gas, liquid, or solids
  • Biological hazards such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites
  • Safety hazards caused by inadequate machines, unsafe workplace conditions, unsafe work practices
  • Physical hazards caused by heat, electricity, or radiation

What are the two types of workplace inspection visits?

Unannounced visits are referred to as Proactive Visits. The officer will ask to see documentation related to the Business Health and Safety Program. This typically includes the written occupational health and safety policy and the workplace violence and harassment policy, but keep in mind they can ask for any documentation required under the legislation.

Employers must immediately report any critical workplace injury or fatality to the authorities. These will result in Reactive Visits. Complaints may also be submitted to the authorities when an employer is not compliant with the legislation. An officer will then be assigned to respond to the inquiry to investigate the complaint or accident further.

Once the officer has completed the inspection or investigation, they will then determine if the workplace is compliant with OHS regulations and issue an order to comply where necessary. In cases of gross violation or extremely dangerous situation, they may issue a fine or stop the work while they are on site.

Peninsula is an HR and Health and Safety consulting firm serving over 80,000 small businesses worldwide, including dealers in home improvement. Clients are supported with ongoing updates to their workplace documentation and policies as legislation changes. Additionally, clients benefit from 24/7 employer HR advice and are protected by legal insurance.