Policy last updated

22 November 2022


  • Schools

March 2020



This policy outlines the requirements for schools to prevent, identify and manage hazards in schools by conducting workplace inspections.


  • Schools must undertake workplace safety inspections quarterly (once per term) to help keep their workplace free from hazards and prevent incidents and injuries from occurring. They are conducted using workplace safety inspection checklists so that known hazards are monitored and potential ones identified.
  • Information from workplace safety inspections must then be discussed with the principal, their delegate, health and safety representatives and relevant school staff. When completed regularly, workplace safety inspections provide information on potential and identified hazards so that long term, sustainable improvements are made and monitored.
  • Hazards identified during workplace inspections must be recorded and managed using eduSafe PlusExternal Link – the department's online incident reporting and hazard management system. Schools must update their OHS risk register when hazards not previously identified are discovered or when additional controls are implemented.
  • Workplace safety inspections must be supported by other measures to prevent injury and reduce risk in schools. For example, schools must implement effective consultation processes and build a culture where staff are supported and empowered to report incidents, near misses and hazards.


Roles and responsibilities for managing workplace inspections

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic)External Link , managing hazards and preventing injuries is a shared responsibility between the department, the principal and/or their delegate and school staff.

Department roles and responsibilities

The department must, so far as is reasonably practicable, provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to health.

Principal and/or delegate roles and responsibilities

The principal and/or their delegate, in consultation with the school’s health and safety representative (HSR) and/or deputy HSR if elected, and relevant school staff, must ensure workplace safety inspections are undertaken to identify, assess and manage risks in schools.

School staff roles and responsibilities

School staff must take reasonable care for their own health and safety, and the safety of others who may be affected by their actions or omissions while at work, including undertaking workplace safety inspections as requested and reporting workplace hazards.

Safety is a shared responsibility and everyone, including students, has a role to play.

Key requirements for schools when conducting workplace inspections

Schools must:

  • schedule and complete quarterly workplace inspections for all relevant areas using the workplace safety inspection checklists found in the Resources tab
  • consult and communicate with relevant school staff and HSRs about conducting workplace safety inspections, the identified hazards, the outcomes and actions as a result of the inspections
  • ensure identified hazards and related actions are recorded and completed in a timely manner (using eduSafe Plus and the school’s OHS risk register as required).

Note: records relating to workplace safety inspections are checked during OHS assurance program visits.

The workplace safety inspection procedure (in the Procedure tab) contains detailed, step-by-step instructions for schools to meet these key requirements.

Department supports for schools

Central and regional offices provide a range of supports and services to assist principals and school staff to be safe and well, including access to the OHS Advisory Service and regional OHS support officers who provide free advice about the workplace inspection process.

Using eduSafe PlusExternal Link to report and manage hazards identified on workplace safety inspections allows support staff to provide assistance and advice. Guidance for reporting and managing hazards using eduSafe Plus is located in the how to guide (PDF)External Link on the eduSafe Plus knowledge base. For more general information on OHS risk management, refer to the OHS Risk Management Policy.


Anything with the potential to cause harm, injury, illness, or loss.

The likelihood of harm arising from exposure to any hazards and the consequence of that harm.

Risk assessment
A process undertaken to identify the hazards, risk controls, and level of risk associated with a task or activity.

Risk register
A register of all identified hazards, the level of risk they pose and controls that have been put in place to reduce the likelihood and consequence of incidents and/or injuries. It may also be used as an action plan for the implementation of new controls with a delegation of responsibilities and proposed implementation dates.

Workplace safety inspection
A formal and critical check of physical conditions existing within a defined area against an established criterion.

Relevant legislation


Workplace Safety Inspection Procedure

This workplace safety inspection procedure sets out the practical step-by-step instructions that must be followed to implement the Workplace Safety Inspection Policy. This procedure must be implemented in consultation with the health and safety representatives, your health and safety committee or equivalent staff forum as outlined in Consultation and Communication for Health, Safety and Wellbeing.

It contains the following steps:

  • Planning and allocating workplace safety inspections
  • Identifying risks and hazards using workplace safety inspection checklists
  • Controlling risks arising from workplace safety inspections
  • Monitoring, reviewing and recording

Planning and allocating workplace safety inspections

Planning and allocating workplace safety inspections

The principal and/or their delegate is responsible for planning quarterly workplace inspections (once per term). Inspections must be planned and scheduled in the OHS activities calendar (XLSX)External Link .

During the planning stage, the principal and/or their delegate must review and amend the department’s pre-populated workplace inspection checklists. These are:

Some checklists, or sections of checklists, may not be relevant to all schools. If not relevant, the requirements to be inspected may be removed.

This review process must be done in consultation with relevant school staff and health and safety representatives (HSRs).

When planning for these formal inspections, the principal and/or their delegate must involve the HSR and school staff who are familiar with the area being inspected. For areas that have specialised plant, equipment or require technical knowledge, inspections may be assigned to specialist staff, for example, a woodwork teacher when inspecting the woodwork room.

Identifying risks and hazards using workplace safety inspections

Identifying risks and hazards using workplace safety inspections

The principal, delegate and/or other allocated responsible person (refer to: Planning and allocating workplace safety inspections) must critically examine the workplace areas defined in each of the relevant checklists. Multiple workplace safety inspection checklists may be used on different floors, wings or areas within a school if needed.

The principal, delegate/s and/or allocated responsible person must:

  • review previous workplace safety inspections, if available
  • move through the area being inspected, visually identifying and recording hazards on the checklist
  • ensure any hazard controls already in place are still effective
  • identify building materials or equipment which need attention due to signs of wear and tear, impact, vibration, heat, corrosion, chemical reaction or misuse
  • identify uncorrected issues from previous inspections.

In each checklist there is a reporting plan (section 2) that the individual completing the inspection must use to summarise the actions as a result of the inspection (refer to the chapter on Controlling risks arising from workplace safety inspections).

If the individual conducting the workplace safety inspection identifies a serious or imminent danger, they must inform the principal immediately, or their delegate if not available. Depending on the level of risk, work may need to stop until the risk is eliminated or adequate controls are implemented.

Controlling risks arising from workplace safety inspections

Controlling risks arising from workplace safety inspections

Risk controls must be implemented by the principal and/or their delegate in consultation with health and safety representatives and affected school staff.

The principal and/or their delegate must use the completed reporting plan within the checklists (section 2) to facilitate a discussion on next steps and appropriate controls.

The OHS risk management procedure may support this discussion by providing further information on determining the likelihood and severity of risk, appropriate controls and using the OHS risk register.

This discussion must include:

  • prioritising hazards identified, through assessing the consequence and likelihood of an incident occurring
  • identifying appropriate hazard controls
  • depending on the hazards being addressed, engaging contractors or other subject matter experts as required
  • competing priorities and most urgent tasks
  • budget constraints and available funding – refer to the Buildings and Grounds Maintenance and Compliance Policy and the School-Funded Capital Projects Policy for more information regarding repairs and building management
  • clearly stating the controls to be implemented, allocating a responsible person and providing a date for completion
  • reporting all hazards on eduSafe PlusExternal Link , including those risk controls that cannot be implemented immediately, for further action and management.

Workplace safety inspections must be supported by other risk prevention measures such as a culture of near miss, incident and hazard reporting and an effective consultation process.

Monitoring, reviewing and recording

Monitoring, reviewing and recording

The principal and/or their delegate must regularly review the progress of outstanding actions and effectiveness of implemented hazard controls. This must occur in consultation with health and safety representatives, affected school staff and persons allocated with the responsibility of completing any workplace safety inspections. This may be achieved by having health, safety and wellbeing matters as a standing agenda item for relevant staff meetings or in other forums such as health and safety committee meetings.

Generally, visually inspecting the workplace happens regularly, likely on most days of the week, to ensure all areas of the school are always kept safe. It’s important to use this information to inform the effectiveness of the current controls and identify any additional hazards or changes required.

The principal and/or their delegate must keep records of workplace inspections and reporting plan outcomes. eduSafe PlusExternal Link provides a system to manage hazards and actions arising from workplace inspections. Guidance for entering and managing hazards is found in the how to guide (PDF)External Link in eduSafe Plus.

Records relating to workplace safety inspections are checked during OHS assurance program visits.

Schools are responsible for creating, managing and appropriately disposing of public records in accordance with the Public Records Act 1973 (Vic)External Link , standards issued by the Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) and policy and guidance issued by the department. Support regarding records management is found in Records Management – School Records Policy.


Reviewed 21 November 2022