Did you know October 17-23 is Small Business Week? The COVID-19 pandemic has proved challenging for many organizations across the world, but especially small businesses. No matter how many people you employ, whether you have WSIB coverage or private insurance, Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and regulations apply to you.
Health and safety is important no matter the state of the world, and can seem like a daunting task full of questions and uncertainties. PSHSA offers several training and resource materials to help you understand your responsibilities and meet your obligations. Let’s make workplace health and safety as easy as possible for you and your small business.
Building and Maintaining Your Small Business’ Health and Safety Program
When developing your small business’ health and safety program, follow these three steps for success:
1. Engage – Start your health and safety journey
Involving all staff in the development of your health and safety program gives your business a competitive advantage. With fewer disruptions and delays, a strong safety culture means a safe and healthy workplace, improved worker morale, better customer service, and increased productivity.
2. Inform – Let your workers and supervisors know
Continue your health and safety journey by providing training in partnership with your health and safety committee or representative.
Did you know that all workers and supervisors need to complete mandatory health and safety awareness training?
Ask your workers and supervisors during the training what hazards they are exposed to the most. Record and assess identified hazards using the hazard management tool, and do something about them.
3. Review – Where are you at?
By this stage, you have spent some time with your workers and supervisors, talking about health and safety in your workplace. You’ve trained them in basic safety awareness and written down the hazards they may encounter. You should follow up to see if there is anything in place to protect your workers from those hazards.
Work with your health and safety committee or representative and complete the health and safety checklist to give you an idea of where you are at with health and safety in your workplace, and possibly some next steps for you to take. This free, fillable PDF form from the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development can be customized based on the number of regular employees: 1 to 5, 6 to 19, or more than 20, and guides business owners on how to meet the requirements under the OHSA.
Providing the Right Training
Under 20 Employees?
PSHSA’s Health and Safety Representative (HSR) eLearning program covers the fundamentals of workplace health and safety including HSR responsibilities and duties, legal requirements under the OHSA, hazard recognition and control, workplace inspection and investigation techniques, and prevention resources.
This training helps participants successfully fulfill their responsibilities as an HSR and will cover essential topics such as how to:
- Identify and control hazards
- Resolve health and safety complaints and issues
- Participate in investigations of work refusals
- Develop, implement and monitor programs
- Inspect the workplace on a regular basis
- Investigate incidents and accidents
Your small business may be eligible to access this training program for free as well as reimbursement for the time HSRs are away from work to complete the training. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Over 20 Employees?
An effective workplace health and safety program is built on a strong foundation. Perfecting the basics is integral to creating and managing a safe and healthy workplace. These include training workers on their rights and responsibilities, performing regular workplace inspections, and establishing and maintaining a joint health and safety committee (JHSC).
Every Ontario business with 20 or more regular employees is required to have a JHSC in place composed of worker and employer representatives. Together, their goal is to be mutually committed to improving health and safety in the workplace. All JHSC members must be certified and trained in common workplace hazards found in their particular place of work and can assist with:
- Recognizing workplace hazards
- Evaluating the risk of accidents/incidents, injuries, and illness
- Developing and implementing programs to protect the employees’ safety and health
- Responding to employee health and safety complaints and suggestions
Worker and Supervisor Awareness
Worker and supervisor health and safety awareness training is required under Regulation 297/13. The eLearning programs introduce workers and supervisors to the OHSA and focus on the health and safety rights and responsibilities of workers, supervisors, and employers.
Design and Build Custom Digital Learning Solutions with PSHSA
Digital learning is becoming more personal, social, and flexible to fit the various ways we think and learn. If your organization is looking to create custom eLearning to fit your workplace, we can help build your next digital learning solution using techniques best suited to your audience and objectives, such as:
- Responsive or mobile-first design
- Microlearning strategies
- Varied knowledge transfer methods
Building a Strong Safety Culture through Regular Communication
You can implement various effective, yet uncomplicated ways to communicate with staff and keep workplace health and safety top of mind:
- Conduct regular “safety talks” on health and safety with staff. Use safe operating procedures, checklists, or policies as topic guides.
- Perform regular “safety observation checks” by watching an employee work for two minutes, reinforcing what was done well, and coaching on improvements.
- Ask staff to identify hazards.
- Ask a staff member to volunteer as a health and safety champion within the workplace.
Get Rewarded for Your Health & Safety Performance
The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB)’s Health and Safety Excellence program is also a great resource. No matter where you are on your health and safety journey, PSHSA has the people, knowledge, and solutions to help you succeed in WSIB’s Health and Safety Excellence Program. The program includes various services including developing an action plan, access to consultants for support and recommendations, guidance, and more.
Maintaining a Safe and Healthy Workplace During COVID-19
Ontario’s Safety Plan Builder
As an employer, it is your responsibility under the OHSA to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect a worker, and under the Reopening Ontario Act, all open businesses must have a written safety plan describing the actions they are taking the reduce transmission of COVID-19 in their workplace to keep workers and customers safe.
A workplace safety plan is a document that lays out the actions your business is taking to keep workers and customers safe. Ontario’s safety plan builder helps you use current public health and workplace health and safety information to develop your COVID-19 safety plan. Get started on your plan today.
Small Business Continuity Planning Checklist
Are you prepared for anything? When a widespread pandemic occurs, the impact on businesses can be devastating. Business continuity planning can help small businesses effectively prepare for adverse events by providing direction to workplace parties on how to adjust activities so that the business can continue to operate safely under changing conditions. Learn more on how to create your checklist.
Join Us! Small Business Week 2021 Webinar
On Thursday, October 21 from 8:30 - 10:30 AM EDT the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MLTSD) is hosting a small business webinar in collaboration with PSHSA and Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety System partners to coincide with Small Business Week!
This webinar will focus on the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and provide tools and resources to make occupational health and safety easier for small businesses. Topics will include Ontario’s Safety Plan Builder, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) Health and Safety Excellence program, and more. Learn more and register.
More PSHSA Resources
Small Business Health & Safety Resource Manual
COVID-19 Resource Centre
Small Business: Your Responsibilities for Health & Safety Webinar
Workplace Inspection Report
Free Health and Safety Training Now Available for Small Businesses
More External Resources
Health and safety for small businesses | Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development
Small business services | Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (wsib)