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Chapter 12_Safe, Secure, and Productive Workplaces .docx

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Department
Commerce
Course
COMMERCE 2BC3
Professor
Frances Tuer
Semester
Fall

Description
Chapter 12—Safe, Secure, and Productive Workplaces INTRODUCTION • Although the terms worker and employee are used interchangeably, these terms have different meaning within the context of occupational health and safety legislation • Worker has a much broader definition than employee and can include anyone who performs work or supplies services at a workplace or worksite EMPLOYEE SAFETY • Employee safety is regulated by both the federal and provincial/territorial governments, depending on jurisdiction Occupational Health and Safety Legislation • Occupational Health and Safety Legislation: The law that authorizes government to establish and enforce occupational health and safety standards, administrative requirements, and enforcement mechanisms in respect of the workplace • The research to determine the criteria for specific operations or occupations and for training employers to comply with legislation is carried out by bodies designated by provincial governments, health and safety organizations, and to some degree, workers’ compensation boards, although several other nongovernmental organizations exist that perform research, promote policy, and advocate on behalf of health and safety improvements and initiatives The Internal Responsibility System • Internal Responsibility System (IRS): A system within an organization where every person has direct responsibility for health and safety as an essential part of his or her job • Although IRS is a shared responsibility in which worker input is a key feature, prudent employers will take the lead in establishing and maintaining an effective IRS and a safe and healthy workplace because employers are ultimately responsible for worker health • Keys to an effective IRS include: o 1. Safety First and Safety Always—The standard must be that every job should be performed without accident each and every time when exercising reasonable care. The goal then is to ensure reasonable care is always exercised. o 2. Safety is Everyone’s Responsibility—Each manager, supervisor, and worker has direct responsibility for ensuring safe practices throughout the workplace, every hour of every working day. o 3. Safe Work is Efficient Work—Dangerous work practices increase potential for accidents. Accidents are time consuming and expensive. Employer Duties and Responsibilities • Employers are obligated to take steps to implement measures to create and maintain a safe and healthy workplace; provide health and safety devices; equipment, and apparel; conduct inspections; maintain equipment; appoint competent supervisors; train and educate supervisors and workers in health and safety procedures, practices, hazards, and prevention; and create effective and function health and safety policies and committees • Employers charged with an occupational health and safety offence needs to prove that it exercised “due diligence” in meeting its legal obligations by demonstrating that it recognized the potential harm, developed a system to prevent the harm from occurring, and took reasonable steps to ensure that the system was working • Employers must constantly be alert for potential sources of harm in the workplace and to correct them • Bill C-45 (Westray Bill) makes occupational health and safety negligence a criminal offence and provides that every person who “undertakes, or has the authority, to direct how another person does work or performs a task is under a legal duty to take responsible steps to prevent bodily harm to that person, or any other person, arising from that work or task.” o If the representative of the organization breaches this by showing “wanton or reckless disregard for safety”, the offence carries a maximum term of life imprisonment and a fine with no limit for organizations Employee Rights, Duties, and Responsibilities • Workers have positive legal duties and responsibilities in furtherance protecting their own and others’ health and safety at work • Employees have a duty to follow safety practices and procedures, comply with health and safety instructions, and take all necessary and reasonable precautions to ensure their own and others’ health and safety at work • Employees must also cooperate in fulfilling everyone’s duties and responsibilities under the legislation and report health and safety hazards, contraventions, and accidents to the employer • Workers have the right to refuse unsafe work, giving them sense of empowerment in respect of their own health and safety Joint Health and Safety Committees • Key aspect of an effective IRS is a joint health and safety committee (JHSC), and in some jurisdictions, health and safety representatives for smaller workplaces • Consists of employee and/or labour and management representatives • Provide a forum for cooperative, proactive debate and dialogue of workplace health and safety issues leading to an identification of health and safety problems, establishing creative solutions, and planning and implementing an effective plan of action • Committees may also participate in processing worker complaints and suggestions, work refusals, and maintaining or monitoring workplace injury, and hazard reports • Committees are effective for creating awareness of occupational health and safety and promotes organization’s overall health and safety culture Enforcement • Within the domain of the ministries of labour using a system of inspections, investigations, prosecutions, and penalties, including fines and imprisonment • With a mandate to enforce occupational health and safety laws, government health and safety inspectors attend workplaces to investigate a health and safety matter by viewing the scene of alleged infraction or accident, holding interviews and gathering statements from witnesses; they also have significant powers to search for and seize physical and documentary evidence • Inspectors have the authority to issue orders and directions, request legal opinions, or confer with government lawyers regarding laying charges under the statute, and may testify in a legal proceeding on behalf on the government in respect of charges laid under the legislation • Inspectors also undertake the vital role of monitoring health and safety compliance with a view to preventing health and safety mishaps, therefore inspections occur periodically as a proactive measure • If an inspector finds a violation, he or she can issue orders or directions designed to remedy the infraction and may require that they be posted in a visible place in the workplace o Stop work-orders, prohibitions on the use of certain equipment or machinery, removal of employees from the workplace until the hazard has been rectified or removed, and banning the use of certain hazardous chemicals or substances are not uncommon • Charges under health and safety legislation are quasi-criminal and those convicted face jail time from 6 months to 3 years, or fines often in the range of tens of thousands (much higher for corporations) Chemical Hazards • Due to risks, the use, storage, handling, and disposal of chemicals at work is regulated by occupational health and safety legislation and regulations • The standards prohibit the use of some chemicals and place limits and controls on others to eliminate or reduce workers’ exposure to these potentially harmful substances • Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS): A Canada-wide system designed to give employers and workers information about hazardous materials in the workplace o Also known as the “right to know” legislation • WHMIS works in tandem with the federal Hazardous Products Act, which obligates suppliers who sell or import hazardous materials for use in Canadian workplaces to properly label their products and provide material safety data sheets (MSDSs) to customers and users o MSDSs provide information regarding the chemical’s composition, risks, and what to do in the event of potentially harmful exposure • Workers, supervisors, managers, and anyone else in the workplace who may be exposed to the substances receive proper and adequate training in respect of the identification, cont
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