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Did you know? OHS inspections vs. investigations: Understanding employer rights

OHS legislation across Canada provides them very broad powers when inspecting a workplace. They are authorized to enter a workplace, possibly at any time, without warrant and, while there, gather all manner of information. This can include demanding the production of documents and materials, taking photographs, gathering samples, seizing items, questioning people (which may include excluding the employer or other workplace parties from the questioning), taking tests and bringing in experts to assist them. But how far do these powers go? What limits exist?

One key limit is where the regulator has moved from inspecting the workplace to investigating an OHS offence. The broad inspection powers do not apply when the regulator is gathering information to prosecute the party in control of the workplace — whether that is an employer, constructor or prime contractor. The challenge, though, is recognizing when the purpose of the regulator’s activities has shifted. (Source: Occupational Safety, 2019).

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