*This blog was updated on September 6, 2022.
Is your workplace ready for a Ministry of Labour (MOL) health and safety inspection?
Though COVID-19 restrictions are now lifted, employers continue to have a duty under the health and safety legislation to provide a safe workplace to all staff. This includes a workplace free of hazards, including hazards such as infectious diseases. Through safety inspections, the Ministry ensures workplaces in different sectors are operating in compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).
Every year, the Ministry schedules inspection blitzes in specific sectors. The schedule is available on the Ministry website. However, it lists the sectors to be inspected, and not individual workplaces.
This blog discusses the types of audits conducted by MOL’s health and safety inspectors.
Types of audits
MOL’s health and safety audits are both proactive and reactive. Reactive visits are in response to a fatality, critical injury, work refusal or a complaint. Proactive workplace inspections are usually unannounced.
A typical proactive visit
A health and safety inspector may drop by unannounced. The inspector will show you their identification and introduce themselves. They will ask to speak with a member of the management and the office’s health and safety contact person. They may also want to meet the worker health and safety representative or a member of the joint health and safety committee.
The inspector may check that all documentation necessary under the OHSA is in place. Under the law, you must also display the said documentation in an area accessible by all employees. The inspector may examine other relevant documentation such as proof of training. Next, the inspector will survey the workplace to check whether you are complying with the OHSA regulations. Make sure you have someone from your staff taking notes, and walking the inspector through the workspace in case any procedures or measures need to be explained to them.
The inspector may interview you or your employees. They may use or test any equipment or material. It is within their powers to take samples, photographs and measurements. If there are any violations or hazards, the inspector may issue orders or tickets for fines.
In case of an immediate risk of injury, the inspector may issue a “stop work” order and shut down your workplace. You have to comply with their orders. It is best to be professional, respectful and transparent during an MOL inspection.
The inspector will also give you a Notice of Compliance form along with the orders. You have to complete the form and mail it back to the inspector. You must also get the response of the health and safety representative or a member of the joint health and safety committee on the form. They must state their opinion on whether you have complied with the orders. Under the OHSA, you can resume work after notifying the inspector that you have complied with the order. However, there may be a second inspection to confirm compliance.
The inspector will give you a written field visit report that contains a summary of their findings at the end of the visit. You must put up a copy of that report in your workplace. You must also provide a copy to the health and safety representative or a member of the joint health and safety committee.
Reasons for a reactive visit
Reactive visits can be in response to complaints and work refusals. If there has been a critical injury or fatality in your workplace, you must immediately report it to the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development. The Ministry will then send an inspector to investigate. Once the probe is over, the inspector may issue remedial orders. The inspector may also recommend that charges be laid if there has been a violation of the OHSA.
Do you need help preparing your workplace for health and safety inspections?
By fulfilling your health and safety obligations as an employer, you not only ensure the safety of your employees, but also protect your business from costly fines.
Our experts can help you prepare for workplace inspections, develop relevant health and safety policies, and assist you with any workplace health and safety advice you need. To learn more about how our services can benefit your business, call us today at 1 (833) 247-3652.