How to handle a COVID-19 workplace inspection

Stephanie Byrne-Roche

September 22 2020

In early May the Government announced the Return to Work Safely Protocol (Protocol).

The Protocol outlines various mandatory measures that all businesses must follow to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.

The Government recently confirmed that it’s adding more resources to health & safety enforcement activity, meaning health & safety inspections in the workplace are on the rise. So, it’s vital for you to ensure your business is compliant with the Protocol.

So, the main priority before a visit from Health & Safety Authority (HSA) inspectors, is to make sure your business complies with all the mandatory measures in the Protocol.  

What's the purpose of workplace inspections and what will an inspector want to see?

COVID-19 Business Response Plan

An inspector's workplace health & safety inspection checklist will be comprehensive. 

One of the most important documents that an inspector will look to tick off their workplace inspection checklist is your business’s COVID-19 Response Plan. Your response plan should set out the identity of individuals on the response team, the procedures to be followed when dealing with a suspected case of COVID-19 at work and include an obligation on employees to immediately notify management if they develop any symptoms, and that an isolation area is to be provided. The inspector will likely want to review Return to Work forms to ensure that all employees have completed such forms prior to returning the workplace.

Who is the Lead Worker Representative?

An important person that the inspector will want to speak with is the Lead Worker Representative. Under the Protocol, you must appoint at least one Lead Worker Representative who is charged with ensuring that COVID-19 measures are strictly adhered to in the workplace.

The inspector will seek to establish that the Lead Worker Representative has a proper understanding of their role and that the appointee is an effective liaison between staff and management to help everyone comply with the mandatory measures under the Protocol.

Can you prove that employees have received induction training?

The Protocol also requires you to provide induction training to all workers to ensure they're familiar with all the steps you have taken to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the workplace. You should have some evidence for the inspector to prove that employees have participated in the induction training as required under the Protocol. This can be provided in the form of sign-in sheets or some type of evidence of attendance.

Evidence of COVID-19 control measures

The inspector will also need to see what practical steps your business has taken to reduce the risk of transmission in your workplace. You should prepare for a physical inspection that will look to confirm that safety posters are clearly displayed, one-way systems are in place where appropriate, social distancing is being practiced and appropriate washing and hygiene facilities are readily available (hand sanitiser and wipes for instance).

Keeping up to date

With the Government’s new Framework for Restrictive Measures now in place, it’s on business owners to stay up to date with the state of play in their county and keep on top of any changes to public health advice.

Regularly reviewing your COVID-19 Response Plan along with any relevant policies and procedures, and making changes where necessary will ensure that you will be ready if a HSA inspector comes calling.

Need our help?

For further complimentary advice on workplace inspections from an expert, call us any time day or night on 1890 252 923 or request a callback here.

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