Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS) consultant Betty Lofthouse sees the common element that all WSPS Safety Group members in 2014 will work on as an easy success. The element: first aid.
"It's a rare employer that hasn't addressed first aid to some degree," says Lofthouse. "So most Safety Group members would already have a head start on achieving this element. What we'll be doing through the program is making what they have in place more robust."
How the program works
Safety Groups is a performance-based incentive program developed by Ontario's Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). Businesses that join local Safety Group chapters may be eligible for rebates of up to 6% on their group WSIB premiums if they collectively implement their selected safety elements and reduce their injury frequency and severity rates.
Participating businesses choose four key elements of a safety program to implement over the course of a calendar year. All participants implement a fifth common element. The common element for WSPS's 2014 Safety Group is first aid.
Implementing an element involves five steps:
writing a standard
communicating key information on the element
providing or confirming the provision of related training
evaluating the implementation of the standard and its effectiveness
acknowledging success and making improvements based on the evaluation.
To facilitate the implementation process, WSPS Safety Group chapter leads hold five meetings during the year. During the meetings, members discuss challenges they're facing, share resources, and listen to expert speakers. WSPS consultants such as Betty Lofthouse lead the chapter meetings, offer input drawn from their professional expertise and experience, and point members towards additional information, products and services. Chapter members also have access to the WSPS consultant and can network with other members as needed.
The program is cumulative, so firms can join each year for up five years. At the beginning of each year, participants select new elements and maintain the work they have previously accomplished. At the end of five years, participants will have implemented up to 25 elements that collectively form a comprehensive health and safety program.
Why first aid
"It's a natural element for WSPS's Safety Group program," says Lofthouse, "because all employers covered by the Workplace Safety & Insurance Act must have first aid equipment, facilities and trained workers in their workplaces. And because it's the common element, all Safety Group members will be working on it at the same time. It's a very collaborative opportunity."
Having an effective program in place offers a number of benefits, says Lofthouse. At the top of the list: "being ready in the event of a first aid emergency. If you can act quickly and appropriately, you can often mitigate the severity of the injury and the worker has a better chance of overcoming it.
"The goal of every workplace is to have zero injuries," acknowledges Lofthouse, "but few actually achieve it. This means an injury will happen in most workplaces at some point. Being prepared can mitigate the severity and the impact on the worker, the workers' colleagues, and the business."
Being prepared can also minimize the psychosocial impact of an injury. "Depending on the severity of the injury, co-workers may be distracted. They worry about their injured colleague, productivity and product quality may go down, and absenteeism may rise. However, companies that respond effectively and are perceived to be doing more than the minimum, such as providing more first aid training than is required or having defibrillators on site, are often seen as caring employers who value the people who work there. This can go a long way towards reassuring co-workers and re-establishing a productive work environment."
Find out more about the 2014 Safety Group
Learn more online about WSPS's Safety Group. While onsite, watch a 5-minute webinar. The application deadline for WSPS's 2014 Safety Group is December 13, 2013. Register by October 31 and save $100.
Learn more about your legal requirements by downloading a first aid guideline at no cost. The guideline reviews employer duties under First Aid Requirements, O. Reg. 1101 and key sections of the Industrial Establishments Regulation (O. Reg. 851), answers commonly asked questions, and provides a sample checklist for inspecting your first aid facilities.