Inspectors collect information from inspections and record the results electronically on the Authority’s GeoSmart Information Storage System. In addition to capturing the name and address of the employer and the address of the workplace, the Inspector also enters details relating to the date of the inspection, the number of persons employed and may enter comments relating to the Inspection. The Inspector will capture the name(s), role and contact details of the person(s) they interacted with during the inspection.
Inspectors will then respond to questions relating to general health and safety issues, e.g. on the presence and quality of the safety statement, whether the appropriate safety and health documentation was available for review, its adequacy, the appointment of a safety representative, the extent of health and safety monitoring being carried out and if accidents are being recorded and reported on.
Inspectors require answers to specific sectorial questions if the employer is involved in a particular work sector such as construction, quarrying, manufacturing etc. and record their assessment on the Authority’s GeoSmart System. Inspectors can also select to enter information concerning topics identified at the workplace such as exposure to physical agents (noise, dust, vibration), or specific issues such as manual handling, bullying or workplace vehicle safety.
The responses to these questions are either in the format of Yes/No/Not Applicable or are based upon the actions taken by the inspector as a result of the inspection as shown below:
The Information gathered from these responses are collated, reviewed and may be used to influence future inspection planning. The Inspector can also record details of any enforcement action taken during an inspection or an investigation. Enforcement action includes verbal advice, written advice, improvement, contravention and prohibition notices.
The Inspector will assess and record the level of consultation between the employer and employees on safety and health matters and the awareness of senior management on their duties under the 2005 Act and other legislation which may be relevant to the workplace or the work activity being carried out.
Agreement With the Duty Holder
The results of an inspection are discussed with the duty holder in the first instance at the end of the inspection. A hand written Report of Inspection letter can be left with the employer and a copy with the Safety Representative identifying items requiring attention. The Inspector normally gets the person in charge at the time of the inspection to sign this letter which signifies his/her agreement with what has been requested.
If more serious contraventions are observed then the inspector may require the use of any activity, article, or substance to be restricted, improved or prohibited and will issue the appropriate enforcement action. Where enforcement action in the form of an Improvement Notice, Contravention Notice or Prohibition Notice is proposed, this will be explained to the duty holder prior to serving the Notice. A copy of the relevant Notice will be given to the safety committee/representative (where present). Full details on the enforcement actions an inspector can take are given in Actions taken by Inspectors.
Freedom of Information
Under the current Freedom of Information Acts, the public may not have a right to access information relating to inspections and ongoing enforcement actions, such as inspection reports, letters and enforcement notices. However, this is to change under the Freedom of Information legislation to be issued in 2014, when non confidential information will be made available. A procedure exists in the Authority to determine whether information is to be considered confidential and the final decision must be signed off by the CEO of the Authority.
Accident and Complaint Investigations
Authority inspectors may also call to a workplace to investigate a specific event such as an accident, dangerous occurrence or a complaint made against an employer. The aims of an investigation are to determine the underlying cause of an accident or dangerous occurrence and to establish any remedial action that may be necessary. The inspector may also conclude that a complaint is not justified and take no further action on it. Details of all investigations are recorded on the Authority’s GeoSmart computer system and the current Freedom of Information legislation will apply to this information. In particular restrictions will apply to access to this information if the accident or complaint is still under investigation and/or enforcement action is being considered.