Monday, October 21, 2013

Need to know: Health & Safety

Need to know: Health and Safety

Health and safety is about preventing people from being harmed at work or becoming ill through work, the law states that we must not put ourselves; other workers or the public in danger and this applies to all businesses of all sizes.

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, a self employed person must abide by the sections of the act that pertain to them.

Self-employed people are required to notify a director of the Ministry of Labour, in writing, if they sustain an occupational injury or illness.

Outlined below are the OHSA obligations of an employer under the General Duties of Employers Clauses and Prescribed Duties of an Employer both under Section 25 & 26 of the act.  Please note that under the act, Self Employed Persons must follow (with necessary modifications the following sections of the act:

4.  Subsection 25 (1), clauses 26 (1) (c), (e), (f) and (g), subsection 33 (1) and sections 34, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 51, 52, 54, 57, 59, 60, 61, 62, 66, 67, 68 and 69, and the regulations in relation thereto, apply with necessary modifications to a self-employed person. 2001, c. 9, Sched. I, s. 3 (1).


General Duties of Employers

An Ontario employer, who is covered by the Act, has an obligation to:
  • instruct, inform and supervise workers to protect their health and safety [section 25(2)(a)];
  • assist in a medical emergency by providing any information–including confidential business information–to a qualified medical practitioner who requests the information in order to diagnose or treat any person [section 25(2)(b)];
  • Appoint competent persons as supervisors [section 25(2)(c)]. "Competent person" has a very specific meaning under the Act. He or she must:
    • be qualified–through knowledge, training and experience–to organize the work and its performance;
    • be familiar with the Act and the regulations that apply to the work being performed in the workplace;
    • know about any actual or potential danger to health and safety in the workplace; [ 1 ]
  • inform a worker, or a person in authority over a worker, about any hazard in the work and train that worker in the handling, storage, use, disposal and transport of any equipment, substances, tools, material, etc. [section 25(2)(d)];
  • help committees and health and safety representatives to carry out their duties [section 25(2)(e)];
  • not employ workers who are under such age as may be prescribed or knowingly permit underage persons to be in or near the workplace [sections 25(2)(f) and (g)]; [ 2 ]
  • take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker [section 25(2)(h)];
  • Post in the workplace a copy of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, as well as explanatory material prepared by the ministry that outlines the rights, responsibilities and duties of workers. This material must be in English and the majority language in the workplace [section 25(2)(i)];
  • Prepare a written occupational health and safety policy, review that policy at least once a year and set up a program to implement it [section 25(2)(j)]. [ 3 ] For guidance on how to do this, see Appendix A;
  • post a copy of the occupational health and safety policy in the workplace, where workers will be most likely to see it [section 25 (2)(k)];
  • Provide the joint committee or the health and safety representative with the results of any occupational health and safety report that the employer has. If the report is in writing, the employer must also provide a copy of the relevant parts of the report [section 25(2)(1)];
  • Advise workers of the results of such a report. If the report is in writing, the employer must, on request, make available to workers copies of those portions that concern occupational health and safety [section 25(2)(m)]; and
  • ensure that every part of the physical structure of the workplace can support all loads to which it may be subjected, in accordance with the Building Code Act and any standards prescribed by the ministry [section 25(1)(e)]. This duty also applies to the self-employed.


Prescribed Duties of Employers

The word "prescribed" appears in many sections of the Act. It means that a regulation must exist in order to put into effect the requirements of that section. Where there is no regulation, the requirements of that section are not in force.

Employers and supervisors have an obligation to know which regulations apply to their workplaces. If there is any uncertainty, an inspector should be consulted.

Here is a list of duties of employers, under the Act, which may be prescribed. The first seven duties also apply to the self-employed. Where there is a regulation, an employer must:

  1. provide and maintain in good condition any prescribed equipment, materials and protective devices [sections 25(1)(a) and (b)];
  2. ensure that the above are used in accordance with the regulations [section 25(1)(d)];
  3. carry out any measures and procedures that are prescribed for the workplace [section 25(1)(c)];
  4. keep and maintain accurate records, as prescribed, of the handling, storage, use and disposal of biological, chemical or physical agents [section 26(1)(c)];
  5. notify a director of the Ministry of Labour of the use or introduction into a workplace of any prescribed biological, chemical or physical agents [section 26(1)(e)];
  6. monitor, as prescribed, the levels of biological, chemical, or physical agents and keep and post accurate records of these levels [section 26(1)(f)];
  7. comply with a prescribed standard that limits the exposure of a worker to biological, chemical or physical agents [section 26(1)(g)];
  8. keep, maintain and make available to workers prescribed records of worker exposure to chemical, biological or physical agents [section 26(1)(d)];
  9. establish and maintain an occupational health service for workers, as prescribed [sections 26(1)(a) and (b)];
  10. provide prescribed medical surveillance programs and safety-related medical examinations and tests, for the benefit of workers [sections 26(1)(h) and (i)]; [ 4 ]
  11. ensure, where prescribed, that only workers who have taken any prescribed medical examinations, tests or X-rays and who have been found physically fit to work, be allowed to work or be in a workplace [section 26(1)(j)];
  12. where so prescribed, provide a worker with written instructions on the measures and procedures to be taken for his or her protection [section 26(1)(k)]; and
  13. Carry out any prescribed training programs for workers, supervisors and committee members [section 26(1)(l)].

When hiring contractors or self-employed persons they must provide a copy of  WSIB Certificate and insurance for general liability to you or sign WSIB exemption form - 1158A General Independent Operators Questionnaire.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Psychologically Healthy Workers are Better Workers

Psychologically Healthy Workers are Better Workers

It is not uncommon for the workplace environment to be characterized by volatile economic conditions and repeated organizational change that is necessary to adapt to frequently changing technologies and increased global competition. Workers are exposed to stress and anxiety when trying to cope with increased workloads and time pressures resulting from this complex environment. Organizations experience many negative consequences arising from psychologically unhealthy workers. These consequences include turnover, absenteeism, performance issues, decreased morale, high disability claims and the risk of increased injury rates.

To address this reality, a new voluntary Canadian standard on psychological health and safety was released in January 2013. The goal of this standard is to prevent psychological harm and promote psychological health and safety in the workplace. While this standard is voluntary, experts predict it will become incorporated into occupational health and safety laws and worker’s compensation. The standard provides tools and information on developing and maintaining a psychologically healthy and safe workplace.
Companies that provide a psychologically healthy and safe workplace benefit from enhanced productivity, decreased costs related to ill health, improved employee engagement, and are better able to attract and retain talent. These benefits can have a significant impact on the bottom line.

What can business owners do to provide a psychologically healthy and safe workplace for their employees?

  • ·         Promote a workplace culture characterized by support, respect and belongingness
  • ·         Enhance mental health knowledge  – including warning signs and misconceptions
  • ·         Provide resilience or stress management training to workers – particularly to those in managerial roles as they are at a higher risk for psychological health issues due to work/life imbalance
  • ·         Provide staff with an Employee Assistance Program to assist in finding resolutions for concerns or incidents – these programs have become increasingly more affordable for small business owners
  • ·         Support work/life balance – for example, by implementing flexible schedule arrangements
  • ·         Provide accommodations to support individuals with mental health issues at work

Monday, October 7, 2013

Dare to Dream, Live to Lead! – Do you have what it takes to be a Leader!

Dare to Dream, Live to Lead! – Do you have what it takes to be a Leader!

Leaders! A good leader is the one who is influential enough to get others to follow them willingly. They have a vision; they have a dream and the passion to pursue it. They have analytical skills, a decision-making ability and a go-getter attitude. They dream big and have the grit to bring it into reality. They possess virtues like integrity, dedication, fairness and an open mind to greet new ideas and innovate.

Are all managers’ good leaders and teachers?

This question brings us to the concept of corporate leadership that highlights the role of effective leadership in the growth and success of an organization. Managers need to possess leadership skills like planning, organizing, delegating and effective communication. 

"Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right thing. But when the line between the two blurs, managers become excellent leaders and leaders become effective managers.

Be it a small firm of fewer than twenty employees, a multinational company of a thousand professionals or a country of millions, all is organizations. And leadership has a big role to play in directing an organization's resources on the path of progress and to the safety of workers.
Effective leaders are those who have the ability to listen, think, foresee, understand and interpret the Health and Safety Act. An effective leader, grows the organization not only through increased productivity and increased bottom line but through safe work practices that they illicit in their day to day activities and through a thorough understanding of the responsibilities of everyone in the workplace – your internal responsibility system or IRS.

The new Health and Safety law requires all leaders such as managers and supervisors to be trained so that they fully understand the Occupational Health and Safety Act and their responsibilities by the beginning of 2014.  It is recommended in addition to Health and Safety Training for Supervisors and Managers that they also be trained in Cert 1 (basic Health and Safety) and Cert 2 (company specific) so that they better understand the Health and Safety Committee and/or Health and Safety Representative(s) responsibilities. For the full write-up on this law visit Health and Safety Ontario web site.

Article by Jean Ridout, Operations Manager, Beyond Rewards