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Health and Safety – what does it mean?

Many of us have Corporate Responsibility Statements as part of our corporate philosophy, mantras, in our vision, missions and value statements, yet do we live up to our corporate responsibilities when it comes to health and safety?

The provincial governments across Canada are evaluating their health and safety legislations, compliance mandates and enforcement of legislative requirements. These changes affect the IRS within your organization.

What is the IRS? It is not the US Internal Revenue Service we so often here about in the news and in the movies. The IRS is your Internal Responsibility System; an underlying philosophy of the occupational health and safety legislation in all Canadian jurisdictions - Government Legislated, Mandatory across the country and it is Everyone’s Corporate Responsibility in the workplace.

The IRS is the very foundation of health and safety in the workplace, establishing workers and employers responsibility for his or her own safety, for the safety of their co-workers and for development of your Health and Safety Management System for your organization. Although the acts and regulations in your province may not impose or prescribe the steps you must take to comply, it holds employers, supervisors and workers responsible for determining the best practice steps for your operation and industry to ensure health and safety of all workers in the workplace. It is therefore imperative that you understand your provinces legal requirements in compliance with OH&S Legislation.

Many provinces such as Ontario and Nova Scotia have recruited additional health and safety inspectors with the desire to educate and enact compliance, reduce the number of injuries and deaths across their respective provinces and enforce corporate responsibility (IRS). Inspectors are authorized to conduct workplace inspections and investigations to determine whether employers are in compliance with safe and healthful workplace standards in the province.

Organizations are uncomfortable with an inspector coming to their organization because they do not know what to expect. Their first visit is usually proactive and fact finding; however it may be in response to a complaint from an employee, worker, or in response to an accident that your health and safety representative reported to the Department or Ministry of Labour (dependant on your jurisdiction).

Here is some really great advice to help you prepare – Do’s and Don’ts:

DO NOT's:

  • DO NOT send them away because they do not have an appointment,
  • DO NOT tell them that you do not have time for health and safety or
  • DO NOT get upset with them. They are there to do their job – ensuring your workplace is safe!

DO's:

  • DO politely invite them in; ask if they would like a cup of coffee while you contact your Health and Safety Representative to assist the inspector with the visit.
  • DO ask to see their credentials. Inspectors carry a badge (similar to that of a police officer), an ID Badge with their picture on it which serves as their warrant to investigate your organization and a business card. If they do not have proper ID (do not accept a business card only – anyone can print business cards) ask them for a phone number to phone and confirm who they are; and
  • DO ask the officer to state the purpose of their visit. Oblige them with the information they request in a timely manner.

In preparation for an inspection, first ensure your IRS is up to date, that you have conducted your required inspections of the facility and documented them, and that all other health and safety requirements have been met or exceeds the regulatory requirements in your province.

In developing your IRS processes, procedures and overall Management System a few tips are provided for your reference:

  1. The Planning Stage: This is the most critical stage in the process – the assessment of your organization and facilities. Document all steps in the process development of your Internal Responsibility System (IRS), Processes and Procedures; always getting the approval of senior management (owner, president or CEO of the company).
  2. The Do Stage:
    1. During this stage in the process you will establish policy, procedures, protocols and training; establishing timelines, strategy and performance measures.
    2. Establish your management system processes, procedures and check systems. By establishing your IRS philosophy in everything you do, you will increase productivity, reduce costs and build a sustainable, reliable and cohesive workplace and above all a healthy safe workplace.
  3. The Check Stage: During this stage in the process you will audit/check the system to ensure it is functioning properly: efficiently and effectively.
  4. The Review and Change Stage: The review and change stage creates the cyclical nature of the IRS System. It is critical that you review and update procedures, policies, and training; establishing new system procedures with additions and changes to the operations of your business minimally annually but more frequently as changes occur in the organization.

Still unsure of what to do; Beyond Rewards can assist you! Contact us to set up an appointment, inquire about our training sessions – (view online or speak to a consultant), make a general inquiry.

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We can develop your IRS for you through audits, program development and training of your workers. Don’t wait for the Ministry of Labour to issue orders – contact us today!

Beyond Rewards goes beyond the basics to assist you with compliance, unlike a safety consulting firm, Beyond Rewards brings both Human Resource and Safety legislative requirements to your organization; meeting and exceeding the Ministry of Labour requirements for your organization; providing complete policies, procedures and programs (includes forms, training and more!).