What To Expect During an Environmental Compliance Inspection

Provincial inspectors are committed to ensuring that regulated parties stay in compliance with regulatory requirements under the Environmental Management Act (EMA) and the Integrated Pest Management Act (IPMA).

The province’s policy is to inspect all authorization holders in a set period of time, with high-risk sites or activities inspected more frequently. When determining who or where to inspect, inspectors may look at potential risk, past non-compliance, geographic location, or length of time since the last inspection.

Inspections of authorized or unauthorized parties can be scheduled as part of industry-wide audits and can also be in response to a complaint or incident. Periodic reviews of sector business records are also conducted to ensure that those who should hold an authorization but do not, come into compliance.

Inspections can be scheduled or unannounced. They are typically done during regular business hours, but maybe after hours in the event of a spill or other emergency.

An off-site assessment of submitted data and reports can be done at any time with or without notice.

Environmental protection staff, designated as officers under the EMA or inpectors under the IPMA, will attend and lead the inspection. The inspector may be accompanied by additional staff, Conservation Officers or any other party deemed necessary to complete the inspection.

On-site inspections may focus on the entire facility or just one or two specific areas.

During an on-site inspection, inspectors will observe the facility and site operations, review plans and examine containers, labels, spills, discharges, waste generation and emissions control equipment.

The inspector may ask questions, take notes and photographs, collect samples and review records.  Records may include monitoring data, waste handling and disposal information, contingency plans, quarterly reports or other records as per the authorization requirements.

To be prepared for an inspection:

  • Be aware of your Permit or Authorization requirements
  • If you have questions during or after your inspection, ask
  • Designate a contact person at your facility for provincial environmental staff inquires
  • Be honest and transparent to show your willingness to comply
  • Be aware of areas the facility where waste accumulates and is stored
  • Have a site plan available
  • Organized records and have them easily accessible
  • Consider developing a self-assessment program at your facility to ensure that you are complying with environmental requirements
  • Remember that an inspector’s goal is to keep your facility in compliance with the B.C. Environmental Management Act
 

What will they be looking at when inspecting under the IPMA?

On-site inspections may focus on your entire operation or just one or two specific areas.

During an on-site inspection, inspectors may examine or observe: pesticide storage facilities, containers, labels, spills, pesticide applications and equipment, plans, records, signs, and interactions with customers.

The inspector may ask questions, take notes and photographs, collect samples and review records.  Records may include pesticide use or sales data, staff applicator or dispenser certificates, monitoring data, pesticide application equipment calibration data or other records as per the authorization requirements.

To be prepared for an inspection:

  • Be aware of your Authorization requirements
  • Be able to demonstrate your integrated pest management (IPM) practices
  • Have well-organized and easily accessible records
  • Make sure the contact person for your authorization is up to date with the IPM program
  • If you have questions during or after your inspection, ask
  • Remember that an inspector’s goal is to keep your operation in compliance with the B.C. Integrated Pest Management Act

The length of the inspection will vary depending on facility or operation size, complexity and the number of requirements the inspector will be assessing.

Site inspections of very large facilities or operations may take a day or two while smaller facilities/operations may only take an hour or two.

Compliance is measured against the requirements set out in the authorization or the regulation a facility is operating under.

The facility or operation is assessed as either in or out of compliance with each individual requirement that was inspected. 

Soon after the inspection, the inspector will either email or hardcopy mail an inspection record outlining the inspection results and compliance status. 

Inspection reports may be made available online to the public seven days after being sent to the authorization holder.