Workplace Health and Safety Plans
What is a workplace health and safety plan?
A workplace health and safety plan, also known as an occupational health and safety plan/program, is a plan of action to prevent:
- Workplace accidents
- Occupational diseases
Some form of a program is required under occupational health and safety legislation in most Canadian jurisdictions. In Ontario the legislation is called the Ontario Health and Safety Act (OHSA). A workplace health and safety plan must include the elements required by the health and safety legislation of the jurisdiction as a minimum.
The goal of a workplace health and safety plan is to ensure that companies are compliant with health and safety legislation at all times. Each plan must outline all team members’ responsibilities with regards to health and safety in the workplace.
Why are workplace health and safety plans so important?
The most recent statistics from the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC) tell us that in 2018, 1027 workplace fatalities were recorded in Canada. Add to these fatalities the 264,438 accepted claims for lost time due to a work-related injury or disease—and the fact that these statistics only include what is reported and accepted by the compensation boards—there is no doubt that the total number of workers impacted is vastly greater. And these numbers only tell part of the story. With each workplace accident or disease there are loved ones, family members, friends and co-workers who are directly affected, left behind, and deeply impacted – people whose lives are also forever changed. Workplace accidents and illness are a scourge that workplace health and safety plans can mitigate.
The rules and guidelines of health and safety plans are specific to a workplace and its particular health and safety concerns. These plans are often custom creations, requiring inputs from both employers and employees. They also require buy-in—a commitment to execute the plan—from both employers and employees because they serve and protect both parties.
Workplace accidents and illnesses exert both physical and psychological tolls—directly and indirectly. They can also be horrifically expensive, both for the victim and the company. Time lost is money lost. Workplace accidents and illnesses can impact the financial health of both employers and employees. Workplace health and safety plans, however, prescribe strategies for avoiding costly accidents and illnesses.
Workplace health and safety plans can also be used to help employees and employers adapt usual work practices to unusual or challenging circumstances. The current COVID-19 pandemic that is disrupting societies around the world is a fine example of this. Most workplaces now have a COVID-19-specific workplace safety plan.
What are the consequences of not having a health and safety plan?
Companies without a health and safety plan are not just putting their employees at risk—they’re putting themselves at risk as well. Reasons for this include:
- A diminished workforce stemming from a workplace death, injury or illness that can reduce productivity and thus profitability. (Skilled workers, which can be hard to replace, are invariably one of a company’s greatest assets.)
- Increased absenteeism among workers as a result of fear-generated stress
- Increased insurance claims and thus insurance rates
- Heavy fines levied by organizations such as OHS or WorkSafe BC
- Jail time for managers
- Negative publicity that can compromise sales or the ability to land contracts
Heartzap Safety Training and Equipment can provide you with the tools you need to achieve compliance with workplace health and safety regulations. Our consulting team can conduct a safety audit and provide you with a step-by-step plan. It’s that easy. Contact us to schedule an audit.