|August 9, 2013|
Previously published on Summer 2013
Generally, occupational health and safety legislation in Atlantic Canada, like other jurisdictions, requires employers to take reasonable precautions to ensure the health and safety of workers in their workplace. Basic steps employers can take to address inherent risks in the workplace include:
Occupational health and safety regulations are complex, but managers, supervisors and workers need to know what obligations are applicable, from violence and harassment to fall protection and required lighting.
Knowledge of the workplace is fundamental to identifying hazards.
Analyzing risk requires a determination of exposure and possible consequences.
This requires employers to either eliminate the hazard or implement controls that involve safe procedures or instruction (i.e., policies, education and enforcement).
It is not enough to implement a new safety procedure or require new personal protection equipment. Employers must follow up to determine if all persons at the workplace are compliant with the processes and procedures for a safe workplace and, if not, determine why not and take appropriate action to ensure compliance, which may include disciplinary action against those individuals who fail to comply.
Since occupational health and safety violations can also be prosecuted under the Criminal Code of Canada, the directing mind of your organization (i.e. senior management and/or your board of directors) can be accountable for safety. This can only be done if regular reports on safety are provided to senior management and senior management participates in ensuring the health and safety of individuals in the workplace.
Understanding the law applicable to your workplace and adhering to good safety policies and rules will provide you with the best understanding of health and safety requirements in your workplace and will also assist you in meeting your obligations under occupational health and safety legislation, should a workplace incident occur.