Disclaimer: This resource has been prepared to help the workplace parties understand some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and regulations. It is not legal advice. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations. For further information please see full disclaimer.
A policy statement by the employer is an effective way to communicate the organization's commitment to worker health and safety. Senior management attitudes, relationships between employers and workers, community interests and technology all combine to play a part in determining how health and safety are viewed and addressed in the workplace.
Workplaces with exceptional health and safety records have established a clear line of responsibility for correcting health and safety concerns. This action enhances working relationships between employers and workers.
Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, an employer must prepare and review at least annually a written occupational health and safety policy, and must develop and maintain a program to implement that policy [clause 25(2)(j)].
A clear, concise policy statement should reflect management's commitment, support and attitude to the health and safety program for the protection of workers. This statement should be signed by the employer and the highest level of management at the workplace, thus indicating employer and senior management commitment.
An example of a health and safety policy follows:
The employer and senior management of ________________are vitally interested in the health and safety of its workers. Protection of workers from injury or occupational disease is a major continuing objective.
________________will make every effort to provide a safe, healthy work environment. All employers, supervisors and workers must be dedicated to the continuing objective of reducing risk of injury.
________________ as employer, is ultimately responsible for worker health and safety. As president (or owner/operator, chairperson, chief executive officer, etc.) of ________________, I give you my personal commitment that I will comply with my duties under the Act, such as taking every reasonable precaution for the protection of workers in the workplace.
Supervisors will be held accountable for the health and safety of workers under their supervision. Supervisors are subject to various duties in the workplace, including the duty to ensure that machinery and equipment are safe and that workers work in compliance with established safe work practices and procedures.
Every worker must protect his or her own health and safety by working in compliance with the law and with safe work practices and procedures established by the employer. Workers will receive information, training and competent supervision in their specific work tasks to protect their health and safety.
It is in the best interest of all parties to consider health and safety in every activity. Commitment to health and safety must form an integral part of this organization, from the president to the workers.
Note: A workplace violence policy and a workplace harassment policy are required of all workplaces covered by Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act. Sample policies are available in the Ministry of Labour’s Workplace Violence and Harassment: Understanding the Law, available from ServiceOntario publications and on the Ministry of Labour internet website.
In addition to preparing a health and safety policy like the one above, the employer must also have a program in place to implement that policy. This program will vary, depending upon the hazards encountered in a particular workplace. Program elements may include all or some of the following:
Please note that this is not a comprehensive list of program elements.
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