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Right of entry

Under certain circumstances, union officials can enter a workplace to inquire into a suspected contravention of work health and safety laws, inspect worker records and consult with workers.

Union officials must follow strict procedures with penalties in place for any misuse of the Right of Entry.

Notification to SafeWork SA about a proposed entry

Pursuant to section 117 (3) of the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA) (the WHS Act) an Entry Permit Holder must give consideration as to whether it is reasonably practicable to give notice to the Executive Director about the proposed entry before exercising their powers.

SafeWork SA has developed a policy, Inspector attendance at workplaces when notified of a proposed entry by a WHS Entry Permit Holder, which sets out the circumstances when SafeWork SA's work health and safety inspectors will attend at a workplace when notified of the proposed entry of an Entry Permit Holder.

For the purpose of the policy and section 117 of the WHS Act, a notification to SafeWork SA is taken to be a notification to the Executive Director.

Entry Permit Holder entry notifications must be made by telephoning SafeWork SA on 1800 777 209 (24 hours per day 7 days per week).
 
For further information on notifying SafeWork SA about a proposed entry please contact the SafeWork SA Help Centre on 1300 365 255.

Expiry and renewal of entry permits

Entry permits expire 3 years from the date of issue. The issuing authority (Industrial Relations Commission) will send a notice to the Union (Association) which applied for the permit, reminding them that the nominated holder's permit is about to expire and of the need to return it to the Registrar within 14 days of the permit expiring.

If a new entry permit is required for that nominated holder, a fresh application would need to be submitted as per the instructions on the Industrial Relations Commission website.

Links

Workplace Entry Permits
Link to Industrial Relations Commission website

SafeWork SA Policy

Inspector attendance at workplaces when notified of a proposed entry by a WHS Entry Permit Holder

Introduction

This is SafeWork SA's policy in relation to the circumstances when inspectors will attend at a workplace when notified of the proposed entry of Work Health and Safety Entry Permit Holders (EPH) under section 117 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (the Act).

Background - Legislative Basis

Section 117 (4) of the Act requires the Executive Director to establish and maintain a policy that relates to the circumstances when inspectors will attend at workplaces when notified of the proposed entry by an EPH under this section. 

Policy Position

  1. Pursuant to section 117 of the Act, an EPH must, if it is reasonably practicable, give notice to the Executive Director of a proposed entry to a workplace to inquire into a suspected contravention of the Act. For the purpose of this policy and section 117 of the Act, a notification to SafeWork SA is taken to be a notification to the Executive Director.
  2. EPH entry notifications must be made by telephoning SafeWork SA on 1800 777 209 (24 hours per day 7 days per week).
  3. SafeWork SA will establish an electronic recording system to record all EPH entry notifications and will record and maintain a register of all notifications received including details of attendance or non-attendance by Inspectors.
  4. The EPH entry notification will be processed in accordance with SafeWork SA's triage procedures.
  5. An inspector will attend the workplace which is subject to an EPH entry notification where the information provided by the EPH indicates any of the following:
    5.1 There is an imminent risk to life or where workers are in serious and immediate danger;
    5.2 Unsafe plant is in operation and the plant presents an immediate risk to workers; and
    5.3 Where a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) is reported to be attempting to refuse, unduly delay, hinder or obstruct the EPH rightful entry to the workplace to inquire into a suspected contravention.
  6. Where an inspector is required to attend the workplace pursuant to this policy:
    6.1. An inspector will attend the workplace as soon as reasonably practicable;
    6.2. An inspector will endeavour to attend a workplace within the Adelaide metropolitan area within 90 minutes of EPH entry notification; and
    6.3. Where the workplace is outside of the Adelaide metropolitan area, an inspector will endeavour to contact the EPH and the PCBU and advise of an anticipated time of attendance at the workplace.
  7. If an EPH enters a workplace and is not accompanied by an Inspector; then the EPH must provide a report to SafeWork SA pursuant to section 117 (6) of the Act. Upon receipt of the report SafeWork SA will give consideration to what action, if any, should be taken in regard to any matters outlined in the report.
  8. Matters referred to SafeWork SA under clause 7 above will be processed in accordance with SafeWork SA's triage procedures.
  9. SafeWork SA will prepare regular reports for the SafeWork SA Advisory Council and the Minister on:
    9.1. The number of EPH entry notifications received;
    9.2. The number of EPH entry notifications that were attended by an inspector;
    9.3. The number of EPH reports received where the EPH entered a workplace without being accompanied by an inspector;
    9.4. Identified issues or concerns such as disputes regarding the right of entry of EPHs, alleged refusals, delay, hindrance or obstruction of an EPH and alleged misuse of powers or functions by an EPH; and
    9.5. Any other relevant information including matters referred to SafeWork SA for the purposes of enforcing compliance with legal duties. Note: data such as this will be used to identify trends in safe work practices which will further inform future intervention activity to prevent workplace injuries and incidents.
  10. Section 277 of the Act requires
    10.1. that the operation of the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 must be reviewed as soon as practicable after the expiry of one year from its commencement; and
    10.2. that this review must include a specific report on the extent to which inspectors have attended at workplaces under section 117 and an assessment of the operation and effectiveness of this policy.

Original signed by B Russell

Bryan Russell
Executive Director
SAFEWORK SA

Date: 18 April 2013

Reports on the outcome of a WHS Entry Permit Holder's inquiries at a workplace

Pursuant to section 117 (6) of the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA) (the WHS Act), where a WHS entry permit holder exercises a power of entry without being accompanied by a SafeWork SA work health and safety inspector the WHS entry permit holder must provide a report to SafeWork SA on the outcome of their inquiries. Use the template (Word 114kb) to report the entry to SafeWork SA.

The report must include the following information:

  • the WHS entry permit holder's full name
  • the permit number
  • the name and address of the workplace that was entered
  • the date of entry, and
  • details of any contravention of the WHS Act that, in the opinion of the WHS entry permit holder, has occurred.

The report on the outcome of a WHS Entry Permit Holder's inquiries at a workplace can be sent to SafeWork SA:

  • via email by sending the report to whsrightofentry@sa.gov.au; or
  • via fax by sending the report to 8303 0411
  • via regular mail by posting the report to:
    SafeWork SA
    GPO Box 465,
    ADELAIDE SA 5001

Regulation 28 (2) (a) requires that the report is published on SafeWork SA's website. The following reports represent those reports received by SafeWork SA in 2013.

Note: Section 130 of the Act provides that a WHS entry permit holder is not required to disclose the name of any worker to the person conducting the business or undertaking, and may do so only with the consent of the worker hence some names in the report have been redacted by SafeWork SA.

For further information on reports on the outcome of a WHS Entry Permit Holder's inquiries at a workplace please contact the SafeWork SA Help Centre on 1300 365 255.