Your workplace likely has a health and safety policy manual, and a health and safety representative or committee, and maybe even a human resource is person to oversee health and safety issues. But do you have a Health and Safety Program?
A Health and Safety Program goes beyond simply adding a policy manual and identifying a health and safety representative. If established properly, the H&S program allows for regular workplace inspections (they are scheduled and conducted, actions are taken appropriately); the program provides mechanisms for communications between management and health and safety reps (requirements to discuss, review and update policies, discussion on inspection results and actions taken, creation of policies and procedures specific to the workplace); establishes procedures for investigation of incidents and accidents in the workplace; and the program also establishes and maintains training schedules for employees on safety issues such as workplace hazards, equipment training, and workplace violence and harassment.
The workers and management must actively engage and participate in health and safety initiatives in the workplace. Risks and impacts should be proactively identified and accounted for, including any impending legislation changes. Roles and responsibilities of persons in the workplace should be clearly defined. This would include: to whom do you report deficiencies that require repairs? Who is responsible to oversee and/or authorize the repairs being made?
In addition, your company should have “safe work procedures” both in policy form (such as “how to use” manuals for machines, office equipment, etc.) and in other forms, such as appropriate posters, warning stickers/labels, directional signage for fire escapes, and more.
Health and safety has taken a front seat in most workplaces these days, so it is important to ensure that steps forward are not forgotten when the “panic” is over.