Progress of an occupational safety and health inspection

Progress of an occupational safety and health inspection

Notification of the inspection and preparation for it

An occupational safety and health inspection generally proceeds as follows: Selection of the enforcement site, notification of the inspection, inspection at the workplace, assessment of compliance with the legislation, preparation of the inspection report and follow-up. Normally, the inspector contacts the employer in advance in order to agree on the date and time for an occupational safety and health inspection. If there is a justifiable reason to do so from an enforcement perspective, we may also carry out inspections without prior notice.

The issues examined and the necessary documents are stated in the written inspection report. Certain basic aspects of occupational safety and health and sector-specific risk factors are almost always examined. The inspection report also explains which representatives of the workplace should participate in the inspection. The employer must ensure that the occupational safety and health officer is present. If the occupational safety and health officer is not present, the employer must state the reason for their absence.

Further information can be found in our instructions How to prepare for an occupational safety and health inspection (pdf, in Finnish, will be published later in English).

Observations will be made and discussions held at the workplace

During an inspection, the inspector observes working conditions during a workplace tour. The inspector has the right to move around at the workplace and, if necessary, photograph or record a video of what they observe. The inspector also has the right to receive from the employer the documents and reports specified in the Enforcement Act to the extent required by enforcement. The Occupational Safety and Health Inspector can be identified by their official ID, which must always be displayed during the inspection and which people at the workplace can request to view closer up. 

During the inspection, it is also important to examine the state of occupational safety and health by speaking with the participants. Workers' representatives have the opportunity to ask questions and give their views on examined issues. The inspector provides advice on the content of the legislation and can provide general information on solutions that have been found to be effective at workplaces.

Occupational safety and health indicators can be used to map the situation at the workplace either during the inspection or before it. The use of indicators before an inspection helps the inspector plan the content of an inspection. Workplaces can also use indicators independently to develop their own activities.

Some shortcomings or deficiencies may continue to exist at the workplace that the inspector did not notice or which the inspector was not informed about during an inspection. In spite of this, the employer is responsible for ensuring that the conditions in the workplace are in accordance with legislation.

Assessment and monitoring of the situation

At the end of an inspection, the inspector explains their assessment of the work environment and what possible issues they has observed that are in violation of occupational safety and health legislation. The inspector is obligated to intervene in any issues that he or she finds in violation of the legislation and, if necessary, give written advice or an improvement notification and impose temporary prohibitions.

It is not the responsibility of an inspector to define or plan detailed solutions to bring the situation at the workplace to the level required by the legislation. The inspector will also not approve the employer's corrective measures.

Observations from an inspection are recorded in the inspection report. The correction of defects that are serious or cannot be classed as minor shall be monitored ex-post.