Powers of Inspectors
Authority Inspectors are granted their powers under Section 64 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 (the 2005 Act). An Inspector can use some or all of these powers during the course of an inspection. Similar powers are also granted to inspectors under Section 12 of the Chemicals Act 2008, the Dangerous Substances Act 1972 and the ADR Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road Regulations. These powers include:
- The right of entry into any place where the Inspector believes the place is being used as a place of work or used for the keeping of articles or substances. However an inspector cannot enter a dwelling place without the consent of the owner or under the terms of a warrant issued by a District Court. The inspector also needs to be accompanied by a member of the Gardaí in order to stop a vehicle on the road for inspections e.g. for ADR Road Transport Inspections.
- In relation to any inspection an inspector may search and examine that place of work or any process or procedure carried out there and examine any records, articles or substances that are kept there and can require that the place or part of the place or anything in that place is left undisturbed until any examination, search and investigation is concluded.
- An Inspector can also require persons at that place of work to produce any records the inspector may require and also provide information to the inspector relating to any entries made in those records. An inspector can also take copies of any records in paper or electronic format and require reasonable assistance to access any records held on a computer system or can take the original records for further examination, investigation, inspection or an inquiry for as long as is reasonably necessary.
- The inspector can also require persons at that place of work to provide information required relating to an inspection, investigation, inquiry or examination and can also require that assistance and facilities to enable the inspector to exercise his/her powers are provided. The information that may be required extends to any article, substance, work activity, installation or procedure and a person can be summoned by written notice at a specified time and place to give such information or produce records required by the Inspector.
- An inspector can also require that any article is operated or set in motion or any procedure is carried out in their presence
- An Inspector may question any person that they consider may be able to provide information relating to any search, inspection, investigation, examination, or inquiry and require that person to answer the questions and sign a declaration of the truth of the answers.
- Inspectors can take measurements, photographs, video recordings or any other recordings they consider necessary including the use of monitoring equipment and atmospheric sampling. They can also arrange for any testing, examination or analysis to be carried out at that place of work, or any other place they specify, of any substance or article at the place of work and they can also require that any articles or substances or samples of them are supplied without charge.
- Inspectors can require any article or substance at the place of work that they consider to be or have been a risk to safety or health to be dismantled or subjected to any process or test. They can also remove and retain any article or substance required for examination, or to ensure it is not tampered with or to ensure it is available for use as evidence in any proceedings.
- An inspector can require a person they consider may have committed an offence to provide their name and address to him/her.
In addition, under the Chemicals Act 2008 an Inspector has the following powers to:
- Inspect any workplace where chemicals might be present.
- Inspect any other places where the relevant chemical statutory provisions may apply e.g. an office or database where he/she can check records on chemicals.
- Remove and retain chemicals.
- Require the removal of a chemical from the market by the person who places the chemical on the market.
- Require the safe disposal of a chemical which prevents it being marketed.
The term ‘person in charge’ is used in Section 12 of the Chemicals Act 2008 with regard to the Powers of Inspectors. See Section12(12) of the 2008 Act. This term has a wider meaning than that for employer in the 2005 Act and means ‘the person under whose direction and control the activities at that place are being conducted, or the person whom the inspector has reasonable grounds for believing is in control of that place’. The need to have employees involved is not required here. Please check the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and the Chemicals Act 2008 for further information.