Here are some helpful tips for dealing with inspectors in the workplace.
Tip #1: Designate a Contact Person
Your company should designate a member of management as the regular contact person for all safety inspectors. That person should be knowledgeable about your Health & Safety program and workplace safety. The designate should be:
- Commitment to safety.
Tip #2: Have a Response Plan
Your company should have a response plan in place to deal safety inspector related issues. That plan should include who the designated contact person is as well as a back-up contact person in case the designate is unavailable. This plan can benefit from listing the powers safety inspectors have under the OHS laws and what do when the inspector exercises those powers. This plan should include contact information for the company’s lawyers in case it’s necessary to get them involved (i.e. the inspector requests privilege protected documents).
Tip #3: Ask Inspector for ID and Business Card
When someone claiming to be a safety inspector appears at your workplace, ask them for identification and business card. You want to both confirm that the person is who they say they are and also get his name and contact info. Of course, if the inspector is one who you deal with regularly, you don’t need to ask for ID.
Tip #4: Ask for Representative during Formal Questioning
A safety inspector will likely have questions as he goes about conducting his inspection and you should generally cooperate and answer those questions. In the case the inspector wants to conduct a formal interview, ask him for a representative to be present when that interview is conducted. It is within the inspector’s rights to refuse but you lose nothing by politely making the request.
Tip #5: Be Cooperative
The worst thing you can do is respond to an inspector by ignoring them or being adversarial. Always aim to be as cooperative as possible and make it clear that you take any safety concerns they’ve raised seriously. Never say no to the inspector. Instead, tell the inspector that you need to consult management or legal counsel if the situation merits it. It is as simple as, comply now, complain later. Your company maintains the right to challenge or appeal an inspector’s order through the appropriate process.
Tip #6: Take Detailed Notes
During the safety inspector’s visit, take detailed notes on what the inspector looks at, does, says and requests. You should also take your own photographs, measurements, etc. This information could be very useful if an issue arises later.