For most organizations, Health and Safety is an important issue and this is reflected in their culture and their workplace policy and practices. Recently, the Government of Ontario and their workplace partners have taken some significant steps to increase their commitment to eliminating workplace injuries. In order to execute this goal, the Ministry of Labour has developed the Safe At Work Ontario compliance strategy which is designed to improve the health and safety culture of workplaces, reduce workplace injuries and illness and avoid costs for employers and the WISB. Having a strong Safety culture with a working Internal Responsibility System is imperative for organizations who want to make sure that Health and Safety is top most on their priority list.
According to the Safe at Work compliance strategy, a strong Health and Safety workplace culture consists of:
Competence - Appropriate knowledge and training, systems for responding to events, properly functioning Joint Health and Safety Committee and other IRS components
Commitment - Demonstration by the employer of leadership on safety, appropriate policies and procedures to protect workers, low tolerance for poor health and safety practices, insistence upon full compliance
Capacity - Adequate resources for preventing injuries, good system
for obtaining assistance from HSAs and the WSIB
How do you choose a representative?
Employees who are not in a managerial role are candidates for the position; however they can select a person to be appointed as the health and safety representative. Alternatively in a unionized environment, when employees are represented by a trade union, the union consults with the non-unionized employees and then makes their selection for the rep from the unionized group.
What are the duties of the health and safety representative?
The worker representative has four main functions:
A more detailed listing of responsibilities for this individual can be found here.
What training is necessary for this role and how is it provided?
Employers must provide certification training to the employee who fills this role (section 5.1 of the OHSA). The first step in becoming certified is to successfully complete the Occupational Safety Group’s certification training program. It’s important to note that according to section 5.3, the employer is required to compensate the health and safety representative while they complete their training.
After the training has been completed, the candidate will receive a wallet-sized certificate directly from the WSIB and this will usually expire after one year. If the health and safety representative wishes to continue in this role, they will have to attend a refresher training course, after one year.
What does a business owner need to do to comply?
For the small business owner making sure Health and Safety is a priority and taken seriously by all can sometimes be a challenge. One of the ways you can ensure that your Internal Responsibility system is working well and your culture is focused on eliminating work-related injuries in your workplace is by having a health and safety representative. Not only is it a great idea to have an advocate and champion in this area, it is the law. According to section 8.1 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, if you work at a company with fewer than 20 employees, it is required that you have a health and safety representative.
Need help setting up a health and safety representative/program?
Clear Path’s health and safety team provides training, policy development and the expertise you need to establish a culture of safety in your workplace. We have extensive health and safety programs and can assist you in identifying gaps in your current program with our Mock Audit service.
Contact us today for more information or to speak with a consultant.
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