Part Five: Occupational Health and Safety in Human Resources
19 Good health and safety practices
Good health and safety practices should be a high priority within your organizational culture. In order to retain your staff, a safe and healthy work environment is key. Everybody values a safe work environment, especially young workers. According to WorkSafe BC, “in the past five years in British Columbia, more than 9,400 young workers in the tourism and hospitality industry suffered on-the-job injuries severe enough to keep them from working. The cost to the industry is staggering – almost $20 million and 170,000 days lost from work” (WorkSafeBC, OHS Guidelines, n.d.).
According to WorkSafeBC (Young Worker Safety Can’t Wait, n.d.), it is up to the employer to ensure the health and safety of all employees. To guarantee a safe environment, everyone in your organization should be properly trained and oriented within the scope of the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Regulation. This should be a continuous process and part of your ongoing training culture.
Developing and maintaining a safe and healthy work environment can be a time-demanding task; however, the importance of keeping a safe work environment is worth the investment. There are formal regulations and many resources available to assist in the creation and continuation of health and safety within your workplace.
To begin developing an occupational health and safety program in your organization, begin with a risk assessment of your entire workplace, identifying all of the potential hazards to you and/or your employees. Elements in your program should include:
- A statement of the employer’s aims, and of the responsibilities of the employer, supervisors, and workers
- Provision for regular inspection of premises, equipment, work methods, and work practices, at appropriate intervals, to ensure that prompt action is taken to correct any hazardous conditions found
- Appropriate written instructions, available for reference by all workers, to supplement the OHS Regulation
- Provision for the prompt investigation of incidents to determine the action necessary to prevent their recurrence
- Records and statistics, including reports of inspections and incident investigations, with provision for making this information available to the joint committee or worker health and safety representative, as applicable and, on request, to a prevention officer, the union representing the workers at the workplace or, if there is no union, the workers at the workplace
- Provision by the employer for the instruction and supervision of workers in the safe performance of their work
- Provision for holding periodic management meetings to review health and safety activities and incident trends, and to determine necessary courses of action
An effective program will:
- Identify hazards in the workplace
- Control the hazards and eliminate or minimize the potential for workplace injuries or illness
- Be monitored to ensure the program meets its goals and WorkSafeBC requirements under the Workers Compensation Act and the OHS Regulation
For more information visit WorkSafeBC.
As part of the Workers Compensation Act, the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Regulation applies to all employers and workers within BC. The OHS Regulation contains legal requirements in which all workplaces must comply under the jurisdiction of WorkSafeBC. The OHS Regulation acts as a foundation upon which organizations can build to maintain an effective and safe work environment.
Follow the OHS Regulation Guidelines to determine the legal requirements for your organization. Typically the guidelines are based on the number of workers you have. Whichever situation you fall under within the regulations, it is essential you organize a formal OHS meeting every month, where there must be workers represented. The meeting should focus on existing health and safety matters and how any unsafe conditions and practices will be dealt with. Keep a record of the meetings including when they are held, who attends them, and the general nature of what is discussed. This record should be made available for inspection by a prevention officer when requested.
Research shows that there are clear links between well-thought-out OHS programs and long-term business efficiency. Benefits of a good, updated program include:
- Reducing workplace injuries and the costs associated with them
- Enhancing your organization’s reputation
- Retaining staff
- Having a measureable system to continuously verify your current safety practices
In addition to the above benefits, if you choose to participate in the Certificate of Recognition (COR) Program, and your company is in good standing, you could receive incentive payments from WorkSafeBC. The program rewards employers that go above and beyond the legal requirements of the Workers Compensation Act and OHS Regulation by looking at best practices to injury prevention in the workplace.
Here are a few helpful links for information on occupational health and safety: