Small business owners want to do the right thing and have a keen appreciation for the value of managing risk, especially where it affects people.
But complying with the complexities of Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act can seem daunting, especially for new businesses. Fortunately, you are surrounded an abundance of resources, many of which are just a click away, or within easy reach, often at no cost.
Like us, for example. Many small businesses depend on their trade associations and chambers of commerce for advice and resources, and you also look to us for reliable referrals, such as our trusted health and safety advisor, Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS).
"Find it" is the fourth of six steps designed by WSPS to develop an effective health and safety program.
What is the "it" you need to find? Health and safety advice, expertise, resources, tools and training. A friendly mentor who can help you sift through the complexities and put the policies and procedures and workplace culture in place that will make sure your workers stay healthy and safe.
Health and safety is not a competition, and this is not a solo journey.
Three things to look for when seeking help
Qualified by the prevention system: Look for providers with impeccable credentials. WSPS, for example, is a not-for-profit organization authorized by the Ministry of Labour to provide industry-specific health and safety services and products to Ontario's agriculture, manufacturing and service sectors. The organization is in business for the sole purpose of helping you design and implement an effective health and safety program. Your WSIB premiums contribute to WSPS's funding, so in effect, WSPS works for you.
Focused on prevention: WSPS has no authority or power to impose orders or penalties. Its mandate is prevention, not enforcement. They collaborate with small business owners to develop an action plan specific to your business. You own the plan, the information, and the recommendations, which, when implemented, will benefit your business, help you avoid enforcement scrutiny, and protect your employees.
Reputation: "We've been operating for decades," says Paul Mansfield, Account Manager at WSPS. "Our consultants help small businesses build health and safety into their existing business practices in a way that saves money and sustains performance. We know how to help you keep things simple, practical and easy - and we take pride in steering you to a low or no-cost solution."
Tap into other resources close to home
You may be next door to high-quality health and safety resources and not know it. Don't forget to reach out to your
Trade associations and chambers of commerce: many offer helpful information customized to your sub-sector (some from our health and safety partner, WSPS) and you don't always have to be a member to benefit.
Ministry of Labour, WSIB and WSPS websites: the WSPS website, for example, features a special site designed to address the special needs of small business. Enter just about any prevention-related term into the search engine and you’ll be taken to readily available downloads, templates, tips and techniques.
Safe Communities Incentive Program (SCIP): check out this WSIB incentive program for small business, designed to provide you with as much as a 10% rebate on your WSIB premiums if you meet certain requirements.
Other provincial ministries in Ontario and in other provinces: WorkSafeBC, for example, produces excellent online resources for a variety of industries and topics that you can adapt to your business.
Your own corporate resources (if you're a franchise).
Community resources; e.g. your local Fire and Emergency Services.
Keep costs down by asking your student workers, local schools and vendors to help:
Ask your students or summer help to collect WHMIS sheets, develop workplace labels, or conduct hazardous materials inventories.
Ask your suppliers if they provide free health and safety training on equipment or materials they supply (chemical suppliers might even offer free WHMIS training).
Remember, MSDS sheets are required by law and suppliers must provide them to you, whether by mail, email, or fax.
Let's make this easier
You deserve to be on the simplest, fastest path to a healthy, safe and productive workforce. Check out all six steps to an effective health and safety program in the "Roadmap," "How-To Guide," and other resources offered on the WSPS Small Business Safety Made Easy, and find out how to get it, do it, write it down, watch for it, report it, and find it.