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5 December 2019

How to prepare for your next venue inspection

One of our Compliance Inspectors James reveals how to prepare for an inspection and the trends he’s noticed recently.

Our Compliance Inspectors visit licensed venues all over NSW so the public can enjoy safe and vibrant pubs, clubs, bars, restaurants, cafés and events.

How can I ensure I’m prepared for an inspection?

“A common mistake venues make is assuming everything is okay if they’ve been inspected before. It’s not possible to check everything in one or even many inspections, so licensees need to ensure they’re keeping on top of safety and risk-reduction.

“In my years as a Compliance Inspector, I’ve found what sets well run venues apart are the policies and processes they have in place, and how they implement them.

“Human error is a fact of life, but venues will find it easier to fix issues and respond to incidents quickly when they have policies and processes that staff are aware of and follow.

“My advice to venues looking to stay compliant and avoid warnings, fines and legal action is:

  • Have internal documented policies and processes in place. Regularly review and refresh them.
  • Make sure your staff are trained and briefed regularly on your policies and processes. This may be a challenge in the hospitality industry where staff turn-over can be high and staff are often casual. But it’s worth making the effort by inducting new staff members, and providing refresher training and updates for all staff.
  • Use our self-check tools. We recommend venues use these regularly, such as once a month. Keep them on-file for reference.
  • Get involved with your local liquor accord to learn from other venues in the area, from NSW Police who often attend meetings and to share your own expertise.
  • Consider the benefits of joining your industry group, such as AHA NSW and ClubsNSW. They can help you keep up with what’s going on in your industry and share tips on staying compliant.
  • Keep your staff, licensee and approved managers up to date with required training.
  • Remind staff about the importance of human interaction when serving customers. It can help staff recognise if someone’s had too much to drink.
  • Some venues have dedicated staff who focus on helping the venue comply with liquor and gaming laws. This may not be practical for smaller venues, but it’s important it’s someone’s responsibility. Ultimately that responsibility sits with the licensee or approved manager, who can be held legally responsible if things go wrong.

What trends have you noticed in your inspections?

“One of the most positive things I’ve noticed in the past few years is that technology has been embraced to help venues run smoothly and remove some elements of human error.

“Technology can be used in areas like drink serving, incident reporting and monitoring trends in a venue. For example, systems have been installed that serve exact measurements, which prevents over-pouring, and till systems that record drink sales help managers understand trends and enforce drink restrictions.

“Technology can also give staff more time to interact with customers, support Responsible Service of Alcohol and help customers keep track of their drinks if they’re driving or watching their alcohol intake.”

Final thoughts?

“Our aim is for 75% of our compliance operations to be proactive and only 25% reactive – such as responding directly to a complaint.

“This approach helps us and the industry identify and deal with issues, and improve internal processes and practices in venues before issues become high-risk. That’s in everyone’s interest – from the public to the publican.”

Last month, James revealed what inspectors look for at your venue. Read more.