Occupational Health & Safety Policies: Need to Know
As an employer, you are required to take every reasonable precaution to protect worker safety, including health and safety instruction and supervision. All Ontario employers are responsible for following and abiding by the Occupational Health & Safety Act.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act requires an employer to prepare and review a written Occupational Health & Safety Policy at least annually and, must develop a program to implement the policy. (Clause 25(2)(j)). Your policy will largely depend on what sector or industry your business is classified as, what province/territory your business is located in, whether your business falls within provincial/federal jurisdiction, and what safety concerns are unique to your location, activities and, equipment. However, there are some sections that will remain constant. All Ontario employers must have a policy addressing workplace violence and harassment prior to hiring their first employee, this policy must be in writing if there are 5 or more employees. The statement should be signed by both the employer and the highest level of management within the workplace, thus demonstrating the shared commitment between employee and senior management. Your policy should begin with a Policy Statement by the employer. A Policy Statement should communicate the following:
- the organization’s commitment to worker health and safety
- Senior management attitudes
- relationships between employers and workers
- community interests and technology
- how the above combine to play a part in determining how health and safety are viewed and addressed in the workplace.
Considering these points will give you an excellent jumping point for creating your policy.
When writing your policy it is recommended you involve senior management and employee representatives in the preparation of the policy. Your policy should:
- be seen as consistent with the workplace’s objectives of operating in an efficient and predictable manner,
- be relevant and appropriate to the nature, scale and OHS hazards and risk specific to your workplace, and
- be accepted as equal in importance to the workplace’s other policy objectives.
- be transparent
- be easily accessible
- include accountability at all levels,
- Include mechanisms for consistent reviews
- Include a comprehensive plan to measure the policy’s effectiveness
- Include steps to implement changes, updates or improvements as required
- be updated to include current legislation.
- provide for appropriate training of staff
- provide for effective and appropriate communication
Who has responsibilities under the Policy?
No matter how well written, a policy is no more than empty words if a plan does not exist to put the policy into effect throughout the organization. The policy can only be put into effect where:
- responsibilities are clearly defined and assigned,
- methods of accountability are established,
- proper procedures and program activities are implemented,
- adequate provision of financial and other resources are provided, and
- responsibilities for carrying out the policy objectives are clearly communicated and understood within the workplace.
Policy should be developed to integrate and extend responsibility throughout the organizational structure. Considering this will produce policy that is represented in all workplace activities. Your policy should specify:
- individual responsibilities,
- legal responsibilities,
- accountability systems,
- promotion of health, safety and well-being awareness,
- education and training needs,
- reporting and correcting health and safety deficiencies, and
- injury and illness control information.
In addition to preparing a health and safety policy, the employer must also have a program in place to implement that policy. Similarly, this program is unique to the workplace based on the hazards present. Programs may have some or all of the following segments:
- Worker training (e.g., new workers, WHMIS, new job procedures)
- Workplace inspections and hazard analysis
- Analysis of the accidents and illnesses occurring at the workplace
- A health and safety budget
- A formal means of communication to address promptly the concerns of workers
- Confined space entry procedure
- Lock out procedure
- Machine guarding
- Material handling practices and procedures
- Maintenance and repairs
- Protective equipment
- Emergency procedures
- First aid and rescue procedures
- Electrical safety
- Fire prevention
- Engineering controls (e.g., ventilation)
Posters & Displays
Within the implementation process all workplaces covered by the Occupational Health and Safety Act must display the following:
- a health and safety at work poster.
- a copy of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
- the names and locations of your workplace joint health and safety committee members.
All workplaces covered by the Employment Standards Act must put up:
- An Employment Standards Act Poster – As an employer, you are required to provide each employee with a paper or electronic copy of the poster.
The Health and Safety Awareness training is a mandatory training for all workers and supervisors in Ontario. Training covers topics including the roles, duties and, rights of worker(s), employer(s) and supervisor(s), the Joint Health and Safety Committee and representative(s).
Am I required to have a Health and Safety Representative or Health and Safety Committee?
You should consider the nature of your business and health and safety risks involved. However, workplaces with more than 5 employees must have a health and safety representative. This individual is not part of management but rather elected by employees. If you have 20-49, you are required to have a Joint Health and Safety Committee.
Other recommended policy:
- Privacy (Recommended: follow PIPEDA’s 10 Tips when creating your policy)
- Equity and Inclusion
- Covid-19 Return to Work
Did you know Bizwize writes policy?
Contact us today for more information on our policies available. We’ll work with you to decide what policies you need based on your unique business and can customize them for you!
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