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What are the various types of hazards which can be found in a worksite?
Hazards found in a workplace usually fall under 7 workplace hazard categories.
These categories are:
- Safety Hazards – examples such as the hazards associated with driving, using machinery, electrical, slips, trips, and falls, working on elevated platforms, using tools, etc.
- Health/Biological Hazards – examples such as exposure to stinging insects or mouse droppings, communicable or transmissible diseases exposure in the workplace, bodily fluids exposure, poor hygienic practices, etc.
- Physical Hazards - examples such as noise, especially loud noise exposure, radiation, extreme temperature exposure, and poor indoor ventilation of air quality, etc.
- Ergonomic Hazards - examples such as poorly designed workstations, repetitive work motions or activities, prolonged sitting or standing activities, bad lighting, etc.
- Chemical Hazards - examples such as missing workplace or manufacturer labels, lack of WHMIS GHS training, poorly stored chemicals, harmful vapour exposure, spills, etc.
- Psychosocial Hazards - examples such as workplace violence or harassment exposure, stress, discrimination, etc.
- Workplace Hazards - examples such as confined or restricted spaces, working alone, working around or operating moving equipment, extended working hours, etc.
What makes a safe workplace?
A safe workplace can be defined as
- one which is free of hazards, or has hazards identified and appropriately controlled to eliminate their risk to workers,
- in compliance with all applicable workplace health and safety legislation, acts, codes, and regulations,
- has knowledgeable, competently trained workers,
- encourages employee feedback and reporting of issues,
- has a Health and Safety Management System which encourages:
- Management leadership and employee involvement
- Workplace safety analysis and inspections – early and often
- Hazard identification, prevention, and control
- Health and safety training and continuous educatio
Who is responsible for Workplace Safety?
Employers have a lot of responsibility when it comes to workplace safety. Chief among them is the responsibility to take every reasonable precaution for the health and safety of their workers. This encompasses the concept of due diligence. So, while everyone in the workplace contributes to safety, being able to prove due diligence is up to the employer. Duties of the Employer are:
- Comply with all acts, codes, and regulations made under Occupational Health and Safety legislation.
- Develop and implement an occupational health and safety program and policy.
- Develop and implement a workplace violence and harassment policy.
- Provide information, instruction, and supervision to a worker to protect the health and safety of that worker.
- Establish and cooperate with the Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) if required.
Who is the employer?
The employer can be a corporation or an individual owner. In a large organization, the employer is typically represented by senior management. They may delegate the tasks required to fulfill their duties to Human Resources or Health and Safety Managers. But they cannot outsource their legal responsibility. In a small business, the employer is often the owner themselves. In this case, they may be the one carrying out the tasks involved in fulfilling the employer duties.
What responsibilities do workers have for health and safety in the workplace?
Safety isn’t just the job of Owners or Senior Management. Safety is also a worker’s personal responsibility. Occupational Health and Safety legislation outlines the responsibilities of workers as well. While the main one is to work safely, workers are also responsible for:
- Wearing appropriate personal protective equipment.
- Operating equipment in a safe, competent manner.
- Working in compliance with Occupational Health and Safety legislation and its acts, codes, and regulations.
- Work in compliance with developed company safety policies and procedures.
- Reporting any known workplace hazards or safety violations including unsafe acts and conditions.
- Knowing their rights under Occupational Health and Safety legislation.
- Every worker must complete Health and Safety Awareness Training to learn about their rights and responsibilities.
What responsibilities do Supervisors have for health and safety in the workplace?
Supervisors have the same overall responsibility for ensuring the safety of their workers. Legislation dictates Supervisors must take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of the worker. Other duties include:
- Ensuring workers work in compliance with health and safety policies and procedures, and Occupational Health and Safety legislation.
- Ensuring that personal protective equipment (PPE) is worn when necessary
- Advising workers of any potential or actual dangers known to them and intervene if necessary to stop unsafe acts.
- Providing workers with written instructions on any measures and procedures to be taken for the workers’ protection
- Ensure their workers are receiving training by competent workers in the development of their job skills.
- Offering training and education about potential or actual hazards
- Supervisors are required to complete Health and Safety Awareness Training to help prepare them to fulfill their safety duties.
Who is a supervisor?
A supervisor is a person appointed, by an employer, who has charge of a workplace or authority over a worker. A supervisor can be called a manager, team lead, director and so on. They may not have an official supervisory title, but if they have authority over a worker, they are considered a supervisor. Authority refers to a specific power the supervisor has to ensure a worker’s compliance with directions.
Does an employer need to have a Workplace Violence or Workplace Harassment Prevention Policy?
Every employer must develop and implement a harassment prevention plan and a violence prevention plan for their workplaces. These plans must be in writing and readily available for reference by workers at the work site. Both paper and digital formats are acceptable. A Harassment Prevention Plan must include a Harassment Prevention Policy and harassment prevention procedures. A Violence Prevention Plan must include a Violence Prevention Policy and violence prevention procedures. When developing and implementing the plans, the employer must consult with their Health and Safety Committee, or a Health and Safety Representative if such position is required. If your work site is exempt from having a committee or representative, the employer must involve workers affected by these hazards when setting up and implementing the prevention plans.
Does a worker have any rights when it comes to workplace safety?
All workers have rights when it comes to their safety. The three rights afforded to workers are:
- Right to Know: Employers and supervisors must ensure workers are aware of the hazards presented by people, equipment, materials, the environment, and processes. Workers have the right to be trained on and receive information about dangerous and hazardous substances that they are exposed to or are likely to be exposed to.
- Right to Participate: Workers have the right to ask questions about issues concerning their health and safety or that of a co-worker. Workers have the right to be a part of the process of identifying, assessing, and controlling workplace health and safety hazards. Participation can also be achieved by reporting unsafe conditions to the supervisor or employer.
- Right to Refuse Unsafe Work: Workers may refuse work where they believe it is likely to endanger themselves or any other worker. The Act includes a detailed process for refusing unsafe work and explains the employer’s responsibility for responding to work refusals. The Act also provides workers with protection from reprisal or retaliation from the employer should they decide to refuse unsafe work.
What is the purpose of a Health and Safety Program?
No matter the size or type of the business, procedures developed for the health and safety of workers in the workplace are necessary. Health and Safety Programs, or Health and Safety Management Systems, are designed to protect workers, equipment, and business property. Properly developed and managed, these work by preventing or minimizing injuries to workers, damage to equipment or property, or damage to a business’s reputation. A properly managed program will result in lower overall expenses which in turns increases overall profits for a business. These savings are achieved by avoiding the costs associated with workplace accidents and the resulting fallout such as fines, damage to reputation, long term WCB claims, employee turnover, etc. Benefits include fewer accidents which help with WCB premium costs, less down time due to injured workers or damaged equipment, extended equipment life due to competently trained workers and developed maintenance programs. An additional benefit is in less turnover with the associated retraining costs as competent, well-trained employees who feel safe are happy workers.
What is a Hazard Identification/Risk Assessment?
There are many definitions for hazard but the most common definition when talking about workplace health and safety is “A hazard is any source of potential damage, harm or adverse health effects on something or someone.” The CSA Z1002 Standard "Occupational health and safety - Hazard identification and elimination and risk assessment and control" uses the following terms:
- Harm – physical injury or damage to health.
- Hazard – a potential source of harm to a worker.
Basically, a hazard is the potential for harm or an adverse effect (for example, to people as health effects, to organizations as property or equipment losses, or to the environment). The Hazard Identification and Assessment process is the actions taken to identify, document, and address known or reasonably foreseeable hazards in the workplace. This process is used to determine if any situation, item, thing, etc. may have the potential to cause harm. The term often used to describe the full process is risk assessment. This process involves the following activities:
- Identify hazards and risk factors that have the potential to cause harm (hazard identification).
- Analyze and evaluate the risk associated with that hazard (risk analysis, and risk evaluation).
- Determine appropriate ways to eliminate the hazard or control the risk when the hazard cannot be eliminated (risk control).
Overall, the goal of hazard identification and assessment is to find and record possible hazards that may be present in your workplace. It may help to work as a team and include both people familiar with the work area, as well as people who are not – this way you have both the experienced and fresh eye to conduct the inspection.
What is a Safe Work/Job Procedure (SWP/SJP)?
As part of their responsibilities to eliminate or control risks in the workplace, employers must develop a safe work/job procedure (SWP or SJP) for each task, piece of equipment or tool that their worker is required to perform/use as part of their job and that may expose them to an uncontrolled risk. Its purpose is to provide step-by-step information to workers and outlines how to conduct a particular task or operate equipment in a safe manner.
The first step in the development of a safe work procedure is to perform a job, task, or position hazard analysis (HA). This is the process which involves Hazard Identification for the workers specific actions or activities they are expected to perform. The safe work/job procedure should include potential hazards, required personal protective equipment, devices and/or other safety considerations, and include the steps to be taken to enable the worker to perform the task safely.
It is the responsibility of the employer to provide information and instruction for workers using the SWP, but also to provide these same workers with training and supervision to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of the worker.
What other responsibilities should an employer consider when developing a safe work procedure?
- SWP/SJPs are based on information gathered by a risk assessment.
- SWP/SJPs must be understood by a worker through training.
- SWP/SJPs must be readily available for workers to reference.
- SWP/SJPs are designed to allow all workers, including those with limited comprehension of the document language, to provide safe equipment, tools, and training on how to use these safely.
- Competent supervision is assigned to ensure workers are complying with the steps outlined in the SWP.
What is a Safe Work Practice (SWP)?
Safe work practices are ways of controlling hazards and doing jobs with a minimum of risk to people and property. Safe work practices are generalized statements of what you should or should not do to do a job or task safety. To reduce risks, the employer should have several generalized Safe Work Practices which have been developed to fit their company’s scope of operations and business activities. Management must understand and fully endorse these safe work practices and ensure that:
- Safe work practices are in writing
- All employees understand the safe work practices that apply to them.
- All equipment and management support to permit compliance are available.
- Supervisors ensure that all safe work practices are followed.
What is a Safe Audit and What are its Benefits?
Safety Audits are about accountability. Safety audits are intended to assure that effective program elements are in place for identifying, eliminating, or controlling hazards that could adversely impact a company’s physical and human assets. Conducted properly, this type of audit will help reduce injury and illness rates, lower workers compensation and other business costs, empower employees by involving them in activities affecting their own safety and health, increase job satisfaction, and make the company more competitive.
The objectives of a safety audit should be:
- To maintain a safe place of work through hazard recognition and removal.
- To verify employees are following the most effective safety procedures.
- To make certain the facility, equipment, and operations meet health and safety requirements as detailed in applicable occupational health and safety legislation and best industry business practices to produce a safe place of work.
In addition, safety audits assure that necessary administrative records supporting the required health, safety, and medical activities such a first aid injury reporting are maintained.
Regularly scheduled safety audits demonstrate the company has made a commitment to safety and is monitoring and enforcing its established Safety Policy and procedures
The benefits of performing regular safety audits are:
- improved workforce safety
- fewer accidents, injuries, and illnesses
- lower workers’ compensation costs
- fewer legal claims
- less regulatory uncertainty and compliance risk
- less turnover
- greater productivity
- improved employee morale
- improved efficiency
- improved publicity and reputation
- better decision-making