Under the WHS Act an inspector may enter a workplace at any time to undertake inspections. Usually, however, Comcare inspection activities will be undertaken collaboratively with Finance, the Parliamentarian, workers and worker representatives to try to improve work health and safety outcomes. Usually, the inspector will make contact with Finance and the Parliamentarian to arrange a time to visit the Parliamentarian’s office.
The aim of inspections is to assess the extent of compliance with WHS legislation by duty holders and to provide support and information to enable compliance. The range of inspection options available to Comcare are scaled, and commence with liaison and/or education inspections.
Where an inspection is initiated following a request by Finance, it will usually follow an incident or a pattern of incidents. In such cases, a preliminary investigation may be conducted to:
- determine the causes of the incidents
- assess compliance with the WHS Act and regulations
- determine appropriate remedial action.
If a Comcare inspection reveals a contravention of the WHS Act or regulations, the following action may be taken, usually in the following order:
- seek immediate voluntary compliance with WHS legislation and issue an inspection report containing recommendations to improve the situation. Recommendations may be directed at Finance and/or the Parliamentarian and/or workers within a workplace
- commence an investigation and issue an improvement notice (which requires the contravention to be remedied by the duty holder by a certain date)
- commence an investigation and issue a prohibition notice (where there is an immediate risk and an activity must stop until the risk is removed), or
- initiate a serious investigation in accordance with Comcare’s escalating model and pursue enforcement action. The range of tools Comcare can use to enforce compliance with WHS legislation are set out in the Comcare Compliance and Enforcement policy.