For its time, the publication of the Occupational Health and Safety Act in 1978 was "a huge leap forward in preventing injuries and illnesses," says Stephen Oakley, WSPS' Director, Management Systems. The legislation established minimum standards for workplaces across Ontario.
Two new voluntary initiatives have the potential to enable another huge leap forward, says Stephen, by helping employers move beyond minimum standards. Through financial and other incentives, the initiatives encourage workplaces to apply a structured approach - a proven system of procedures, processes and other measures that promote continual improvement - to workplace health and safety. One program also provides the necessary building blocks for the second.
The first is the Health and Safety Excellence program, which helps you put the elements of a comprehensive health and safety program into place. This Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) program is for businesses that wish to achieve legislative compliance and build health and safety capacity - to obtain, improve and retain the basic skills, knowledge, tools, and other resources needed to prevent injuries and illnesses.
The program has three levels:
- Foundation - essential topics to start building your health and safety program, such as first aid, health and safety responsibilities, and hazard control.
- Intermediate - topics to build and customize your health and safety program, such as emergency prevention and preparedness, return to work roles and responsibilities, and corrective action.
- Advanced - topics to integrate and optimize your program, such as change management and procurement, health and safety continual improvement planning, and external audit.
Participating businesses choose from one to five health and safety topics to work on, at their own pace, over a 12-month period. Their success at implementing each topic earns them premium rebates from the WSIB and recognition for their investment in health and safety.
Is this program right for your business? Find answers at Is the WSIB's new rebate program right for your business?.
The second initiative, Supporting Ontario's Safe Employers, will appeal to workplaces that have an optimum health and safety program in place and are ready to progress further. Managed by the province's Chief Prevention Officer, this program endorses health and safety management systems that follow the same Plan-Do-Check-Act approach as quality and environmental management systems.
Supporting Ontario's Safe Employers isn't itself a management system. Instead, it's a framework for employers to embrace recognized systems.* If your workplace is already registered to a standard for a management system in another discipline, you could leverage processes and expertise now in place and apply those to a health and safety management system.
"Quality and environmental management systems are now accepted business practices," says Stephen. "Health and safety management systems perform a similar function. In workplaces that successfully implement a health and safety management system, the likelihood of bad things happening goes down, and the likelihood of good things happening goes up because meeting the requirements of a management system makes you better at identifying and managing risks."
Once you have an accredited health and safety management system in place, you can apply for recognition by the Chief Prevention Officer, as well as WSIB premium rebates.
Learn more about health and safety management systems.
Both of these new initiatives enable workplaces to improve their health and safety performance and reduce the risk of loss and disruption. The recognition that comes with successful participation also offers other business advantages. For example, they may help you
- identify supply chain partners and vendors who share your commitment to health and safety
- improve your ability to secure new business by differentiating you from competitors
- reduce liability insurance costs through enhanced risk management
How we can help
Learn more about the WSIB's Health and Safety Excellence program by attending
Learn more about Supporting Ontario/s Safe Employers Program.
* As of November 2019, the Chief Prevention Officer has accredited the following standards:
- ISO 45001:2018: Occupational health and safety management systems - Requirements with guidance for use
- CSA Z45001-19: Occupational health and safety management systems - Requirements with guidance for use
- BS OHSAS 18001: 2007: Occupational health and safety management system - Requirements
- COR™ (2020) updated standard, published February 2020