Inspectors are about more than enforcement

Farmer Freddy

Pebbles knocked on Freddy’s front door.  Freddy opened the door tentatively and peered through the opening. 

“Phew, it’s just you Pebbles,” Freddy said in relief. 

“Why, who else did you think it might be?” Pebbles asked. 

“Well, you never know.  With all of those farm inspections that I keep reading about in the paper, I thought you might have been one of those nosey health and safety inspectors turning up unannounced to inspect my farm.  Can an inspector really come onto to my farm uninvited?” asked Freddy. 

“Yes Dad,” said Pebbles.  “Under section 31 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 an inspector may, at any reasonable time, enter any place of work to carry out an inspection,” Pebbles explained.

“So, an inspector can just turn up without making an appointment with me?  What if it is not convenient?  Can they really visit just for any reason?” asked Freddy. 

“Well, an inspector cannot just walk onto your farm for any reason, but they do have the right to visit to carry out any of their functions including to helping employers improve safety at workplaces.  So they are not all about enforcement,  they can be helpful in explaining ways to improve safety on your farm.” explained Pebbles. 

“But what about my family home?” asked Freddy.  “Surely that is my private space and off limits.”

“Don’t panic Dad.  Inspectors cannot enter a workplace that is within a home or go through a home to visit a workplace without first getting your consent or obtaining a warrant from a District Court Judge,” assured Pebbles. 

“Once an inspector enters my farm, what can they do and what are my rights?” asked Freddy. 

“There are a number of things that inspectors can do including conducting examinations and tests.  They can take photographs and measurements of your equipment, and they can ask you questions if you are the employer or in charge of the workplace that the inspector is visiting.  Inspectors must be able to prove their identity and authority to enter your farm.  You can ask to see their identity document that shows that they are in fact an inspector.  Also, you are not required to give any answer or information that could incriminate you.” 

“In most cases, when an inspector wishes to enter your farm, it will be to help you by providing helpful useful information and advice.  However, if the inspector is entering your farm to investigate an accident that has happened, it is a good idea to contact your lawyer so they can help you with answering the inspector’s questions and gathering the information that is needed.  Now are you going to let me in Dad, or do you need to see my ID?” Pebbles says.

“Yes Pebbles, you are always welcome when you bring around that chocolate cake.  I will certainly be contacting you if I get a knock on the door from the health and safety inspector.” 



The content of this document is necessarily general and readers should seek specific advice on particular matters and not rely solely on this document. 

If you would like more information on any of the topics in this document, please contact your usual Auld Brewer Mazengarb & McEwen adviser. 

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Philip McCarthy