If you supply, sell or install water-using products that we regulate under the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme, you and your business may be subject to inspections.
We use inspections to:
- educate suppliers about their legal obligations under the WELS Act
- enable you to take corrective action
- investigate businesses that consistently do not meet their obligations, and issue penalties or take other enforcement action if required.
Intelligence data obtained from a range of sources is used to inform the nature, frequency and location of inspections and investigations.
Program of inspections
Decisions about what products and premises to inspect are made by the WELS Regulator and WELS staff based on strategic priorities, potential risks to the WELS scheme and available resources. We also consult with our government and industry advisory groups.
Our program includes the inspection of publicly available information, such as supplier websites and advertising material.
Inspections are also conducted in response to intelligence regarding potential non-compliance.
Inspectors and their powers
Appointment of WELS inspectors is the responsibility of the WELS Regulator, under Part 9 of the WELS Act. The Act sets out a range of powers inspectors may exercise in conducting inspections and investigations.
These powers relate to entry to premises and inspection of regulated products, associated written information and advertising, and collection of evidentiary material.
As part of inspections and investigations, the WELS Regulator can require a person to provide information or appear before a WELS inspector.
WELS inspectors use their legislative powers to:
- determine whether a person or business is complying with the Act and associated legislation
- investigate a possible offence or contravention against the Act or associated legislation.
Specific powers available to WELS inspectors depend on the type of inspection they are conducting.
A WELS inspector can enter the public area of your business premises when they are open to the public and:
- inspect regulated products
- purchase any regulated product that is available for sale
- inspect or collect written information, advertising or any other document that is available, or made available, to the public
- discuss product features with any person
- observe practices relating to the supply of regulated products.
As the occupier of the premises, you have the right to refuse to allow a WELS inspector to enter, or remain on, the premises. However, WELS inspectors are not required to identify themselves and you may be unaware that your premises is being inspected.
A WELS inspector can enter your premises and exercise their powers under the Act, if the occupier of the premises consents to their entry and the exercise of those powers.
Before obtaining consent, the WELS inspector must inform the occupier that they can refuse consent, or withdraw consent, at any time.
When a WELS inspector enters your premises with consent they may:
- search the premises and anything (including a vehicle) on the premises
- inspect, examine, take measurements of or conduct tests on anything on the premises
- take photographs, make video or audio recordings or make sketches of the premises or anything on the premises
- inspect any book, record or document on the premises
- take extracts from or make copies of any such book, record or document
- take onto the premises such equipment and materials as the WELS inspector requires for the purposes of exercising their powers in relation to the premises
- operate equipment on the premises for the purposes of gaining access to a document or record relating to one or more regulated products.
If you refuse consent or withdraw your consent, an inspection with a warrant may be undertaken.
A WELS inspector may enter your premises and exercise the powers set out in the WELS Act if they have a warrant for entry.
When a WELS inspector enters your premises under warrant they may:
- exercise one or more of the powers set out in the WELS Act
- require any person on the premises to:
- answer any questions put by the WELS inspector
- produce any book, record or document requested by the WELS inspector
- seize or secure any evidential material on the premises.
It is an offence to refuse to answer questions or produce the books, records or documents requested by the WELS inspector. The penalty for this offence is imprisonment for up to six months.
When a WELS inspector enters your premises to conduct an inspection, you have the right to:
- refuse consent for an inspector to enter, or to remain on your premises
- withdraw your consent at any time, even after you have provided verbal or written consent
- ask a WELS inspector to produce their identity card for your inspection.
Refusing consent is not an offence if the WELS inspector does not have a warrant to enter the premises.