Establishing a Safety First Corporate Culture
Safety-related disasters that have occurred over time, such as the Chernobyl nuclear power plant meltdown, the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger on takeoff, and the Westray mine disaster, have given rise to the term safety culture. This term is often heard when something major goes wrong relating to occupational health and safety. Organizations that experience major health or safety failures that lead to accidents or disasters are sometimes said to be lacking a safety culture. In reality the term safety culture is a misnomer in that it implies that safety is a stand- alone, nonintegrated concept that can occur in a vacuum—that it is not part of a larger corporate culture. This is not the case. An organization’s safety culture or lack of it is an important part of the larger corporate culture.
The concept can be defined as follows: A safety-first corporate culture exists when the beliefs, values, attitudes, expectations, and behaviours that are widely shared and accepted in an organization support the establishment and maintenance of a safe and healthy work environment for all personnel at all levels. Evidence of an organization’s corporate culture includes the following:
1. Its priorities. Are health and safety top priorities in the organization?
2. How people in the organization succeed. Are personnel recognized and rewarded for working safely?
3. How decisions are made in the organization. Is safety a major consideration when decisions are made?
4. Expectations management has of employees. Do executives and management personnel make it clear that safe behaviour is the expected behaviour in all cases?
5. Expectations employees have of management. Are employees encouraged to make their views known about the quality of the work environment?
6. Effects of internal peer pressure on safety. Does peer pressure among workers support or undermine safety?
7. Unwritten rules that are widely accepted. Do the organization’s unwritten rules support or undermine safety? How conflict about safety is handled. When conflicts arise between productivity and safety, are they settled in favor of safety?
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Cited from Occupational Health and Safety for Technologists, Engineers and Managers, Second Edition, pg.28- 29
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Competent Supervisors and Safety
Supervisors plays a critical role in promoting a safe workplace. Supervisors are the role models that employees have the most contact with and likely to follow as an example for safe work practices. If supervisors are committed to safe work practices it is likely that their employees will be as well.
Under the OHSA, a supervisor is defined as a person who either has charge of a workplace or authority over a worker.
The role of a supervisor is defined by responsibility and job function not by title. Any one of the following may be considered supervisors: foreman, lead hand, site superintendent, charge hand, journeyman, trainer, an individual temporarily assigned as an “assistant” who is a competent person.
Supervisors' responsibilities include:
- ensuring workers work in compliance with required protective devices, measures and procedures [OHSA Section 27(1)(a)]
- ensuring workers use or wear any equipment, protective device or clothing required by the employer [OHSA Section 27(1)(b)]
- advising workers of any potential or actual health or safety danger known by the supervisor [OHSASection 27(2)(a)]
- providing workers, when required, with written instructions on any measures and procedures to be taken for the workers' protection [OHSA Section 27(2)(b)]
- taking every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for a worker's protection [OHSA Section (2)(c)]
- supervising the work on the project at all times, either personally or by having an assistant who is a competent person do so when the supervisor is unavailable [Construction Reg. Sections 14(2) and 15(2)]
- inspecting or having the supervisor's assistant inspect, at least once a week, all machinery and equipment, including fire extinguishing equipment, magazines (storage for flammables and explosives), electrical installations, communications systems, sanitation and medical facilities, buildings and other structures, temporary supports and means of access and egress at the project to ensure worker safety. (cited from the MOL website)
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Fines Have Increased!
Ministry of Labour inspectors are issuing increased fines on up to 300 safety infractions and appear as amendments to the OHSA and regulations. Employers, workers and supervisors are affected. Ticket fines range from $250 to $350 for workers, $450 to $550 for supervisors and $550 to $650 for employers.
The changes to the OHSA are set out in schedules under Regulation 950 of the Provincial Amendments Act.
MOL Workplace Initiatives & Blitz Schedule 2018/19
Each year the MOL schedules inspection blitzes and initiatives in specific sectors to protect workers' rights under both the OHSA and the Employment Standards Act and enhance employers' awareness of their responsibilities.
September 2018 to March 31, 2019
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Lisa MacKenzie, President
Canadian Business Health Management Inc. - Your Safety Experts®