BASIC FACTS ABOUT OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY LEGISLATION
Purpose: Three Categories of Rules
- 1. General health and safety rules
- 2. Rules for specific industries (ex. Mining)
- 3. Rules related to specific hazards
Responsibilities and Rights of Employers and Employees
- “Due Diligence” requirement is where employers are responsible for taking every
reasonable precaution to ensure the health and safety of their workers. Duties include
filing government accident reports, maintaining records, ensuring that safety rules are
enforced and posting safety notices and legislative information.
- Employees are responsible for taking reasonable care to protect their own health and
safety and that of their co-workers. Requirement include wearing protective clothing and
equipment and reporting any contravention of the law or regulations.
- Employees have 3 basic rights under the joint responsibility model:
1. The right to know about workplace safety hazards
2. The right to participate in the occupational health and safety process
3. The right to refuse unsafe work if they have “reasonable” cause” to believe that the
work is dangerous
Joint Health and Safety Committees
- To provide a nonadversarial atmosphere where management and labour can work
together to ensure a safe and healthy workplace.
- Responsible for making regular inspections of the workplace in order to identify potential
health and safety hazards, evaluate the hazards and implement solution.
- Also responsible for investigating employee complaints, accident investigation,
development and promotion of measures to protect health and safety and dissemination of
information about health and safety laws and regulations.
- Committees are often more effective if the company’s health and safety manager acts as
an independent expert rather than as a management representative.
Enforcement of Occupational Health and Safety Laws
- Health and safety inspectors have wide powers to conduct inspections any place at any
time without a warrant or prior notification and may engage in any examination and
inquiry that they believe necessary to ascertain whether the workplace is in compliance
with the law. - Inspectors may order to stop work, stop using tools, install first aid equipment and stop
emission of contaminants.
- Penalties consist of fines and/or jail terms.
- Canadian corporate executives and directors may be held directly responsible for
workplace injuries, and corporate officers have been convicted and received prison
sentences for health and safety violations.
Control of Toxic Substances
- Most occupational health and safety laws require basic precautions with respect to toxic
substances, including chemicals, biohazards ( such as HIV/AIDS and SARS), and
physical agents (such as radiation, heat and noise)
- An accurate inventory of these substances must be maintained, maximum exposure limits
for airborne concentrations of these agents adhered to, the substances tested and their use
Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)
- Is a Canada-wide, legally mandated system designed to protect workers by providing
information about hazardous materials in workplace.
- WHMIS has 3 components
1. Labeling of hazardous material containers to alert workers that there is a potential
hazardous product inside
2. Material safety data sheets (MSD) to outline a product’s potentially hazardous
ingredients and the procedures for safe handling of the product
3. Employee training to ensure that employees can identify WHMIS hazard symbols,
read WHMIS supplier and workplace labels and read and apply the information on
Supervisor’s Role in Safety
- specific obligation on supervisors to advise and instruct workers about safety, to ensure
that all reasonable precautions have been taken to provide for the safety of all employees
and to minimize risk of injuries or illness.
- Safety minded managers must aim to instill in their workers the desire to work safely.
WHAT CAUSES ACCIDENTS?
- Workplace accidents have 3 basic causes:
1. Chance occurrences - Contribute to accidents but are more or less beyond management’s control
2. Unsafe condition
- Improperly guarded equipment
- Defensive equipment
- Hazardous procedures in, on or around machine or equipment
- Unsafe storage (congestion, overloading)
- Improper illumination (glare, insufficient light)
- Improper ventilation (insufficient air change, impure air source)
Common indicators of job hazards include increase numbers of accidents, employee complaints,
poor product quality, employee modifications to workstation, and higher levels of absenteeism
3 other work-related factors contribute to accidents:
1. Job itself
- Certain jobs are inherently more dangerous than others/ more safer than others (For
example, accounting department usually has fewer accidents than shipping department)
2. The work schedule and fatigue
- Accident rates usually do not increase too noticeably during the first 5 or 6 hours of the
workday. Beyond that, however, the accident rate increases quickly as the number of
hours worked increases. This is due partly to fatigue.
- Accidents occur more often during night shifts
3. The psychological climate
- Workers who work under stress or who consider their jobs to be threatened or insecure
have more accidents than those who do not work under these conditions
- Temporary stress factors, such as high workplace temperature, poor illumination, and a
congested workplace, are also related to accident rates.
3. Unsafe acts on the part of employee
Employees can eliminate these acts
- throwing materials
- operating or working at unsafe speeds (either too fast or too slow)
- making safety devices inoperative by removing, adjusting or disconnecting them
- using unsafe equipment or using equipment unsafely - using unsafe procedures in loading, placing, mixing , combining
- taking safe position under suspended loads
- lifting improperly
- distracting, teasing abusing, starling, quarrelling, and instigating horseplay
HOW TO PREVENT ACCIDENTS
1. Reducing Unsafe Conditions
- Employer’s first line of defense
- Safety engineers can design jobs to remove or reduce hazards
- Supervisors and managers play a role in reducing unsafe conditions by ensuring that
employees wear personal protective equipment, an often difficult chore
2. Reducing Unsafe Acts
- Certain selection tests can help to screen out accident-prone persons before they are hired
- Measures of muscular coordination can be useful because coordination is a predictor of
safety for certain jobs
- Test of visual skills can be important because good vision plays a part in preventing
accidents in many occupations including operating machines and driving
- A test called the Employee Reliability Inventory (ERI), that measures reliability
dimensions, such as emotional maturity, conscientiousness,