The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development's latest top 10 list of health and safety violations casts a bright light on opportunities that many Ontario workplaces may be missing. "Information like this offers a starting point for companies that want to improve," says WSPS Account Manager Donna Beaudette. "Investing in health and safety generates returns that exceed the investment."
Where workplaces went wrong
Based on the number of orders issued for contraventions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and associated regulations, these are the top 10 health and safety issues and violations identified by the ministry in 2018:
- workplace violence and harassment (14,000 orders)
- falls protection (9,500 orders)
- lack of personal protective equipment (8,600 orders)
- administrative (7,700 orders)
- health and safety representative and joint health and safety committee (7,100 orders)
- improper access and egress (7,000 orders)
- basic occupational health and safety awareness training (6,600 orders)
- housekeeping and work surfaces (4,700 orders)
- lack of equipment, material and protective device maintenance (4,600 orders)
- lack of machine/equipment guarding (4,400 orders)
"Not all workplaces have the skillset or trained personnel to know everything about health and safety," says Donna. She suggests workplaces review the list to identify opportunities for improvement and offers six ways to move forward.
- Know what legal requirements your workplace needs to comply with. Ensure someone within your company has responsibility for health and safety. Health and safety requirements are designed to prevent injuries. They also help prevent business disruption and loss.
- Understand what types of risks are present in your workplace. Conducting a hazard assessment will help you identify gaps in your heath and safety efforts, set priorities and allocate resources where they are needed most. Donna recommends a comprehensive assessment, however if that's not feasible, you can start with where your top injuries are occurring.
- Build your knowledge of hazards and best practices. There are many ways to go about this. WSPS Safety Connection sessions showcase timely topics in locations across the province at no cost. WSPS' regional and national conferences offer multiple learning sessions in one setting.
Explore opportunities for improvement
- Take a look at your health and safety culture. Reflect on questions such as: Does production take priority over everything else? Is health and safety part of the company's mission and values statement? Does senior management talk about health and safety with supervisors and workers? Do supervisors deliver regular health and safety talks? Does the company discipline workers for health and safety infractions?
- Assess your joint health and safety committee's effectiveness. Think about how active the committee is. Does it have the support it needs? Have committee members received the training they need to fulfil their duties? Could they benefit from training in any of the areas identified in the top 10 list? Ask the committee to review the list and watch for items on the list during inspections.
- Assess your supervisors' effectiveness. Do they know what they need to know? Are they aware of their health and safety responsibilities and duties? Do they have the training required to meet them? Is health and safety built into their performance appraisals?
"What companies may not realize is that investing in health and safety will ultimately generate returns that exceed their investment. We can show them how. We have the expertise that companies of any size can tap into," says Donna. "We can show you how to address the top hazards in your workplace, how to comply with administrative requirements, and how to set up an effective personal protective equipment program. We can train your people and help you establish safe operating practices."
How WSPS can help
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