Kevin Gray Explains Why Regulations are Important for the Canadian Workplace
For many, the phrase “workplace regulations” does not generate a great deal of excitement. However, a proper understanding of workplace regulations not only ensures that Canadian employers are compliant with labor laws, it also properly distributes the burden of responsibility to everyone that is able to identify and address unsafe situations.
Workplace teams that know how to take responsibility individually and collectively for facilities safety demonstrate proactive and conflict resolution strategies that also translate into strong work performance. As a long-time veteran in facilities management residing in Burlington, Ontario, Kevin Gray must frequently help his clients understand the nature of their responsibility according to Ontario’s labor laws. Kevin Gray has graciously outlined the various responsibilities for workplace safety.
Who is OHS?
The acronym stands for Occupational Health and Safety. It is the arm of the Canadian government responsible for enforcing workplace safety standards and informing the greater public about potential hazards in the workplace. All employers are responsible to establish workplace regulations in accordance with Canada’s Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Responsibility of Employers
As noted above, all employers are responsible to uphold safety standards in the workplace. Naturally, it is impossible to uphold safety standards if one simply has no idea what they are. Kevin Gray often encounters employers that rely on “common sense” over OHS compliance which opens them up to liability should their employees become injured in the workplace. There is no such thing as over documentation when it comes to safety, collect signatures from employees to ensure they have read and understood the rules and standards implemented.
Responsibility of Managers
According to OHS, managers and supervisors act on behalf of employers. Any employee assuming a management position may not ignore this responsibility. On the contrary, proactive managers are better able to see workplace hazards than are the executive leaders. As such, employers should carefully train their managers in workplace regulations according to the OHS Act. Additionally, employers should consult with their managers on company policies that further protect employees beyond compliance with Canada law.
Responsibility of Employees
Employees that witness hazards are mandated to report them. Therefore, employees enjoy privileges under the law that entitles them to OHS training. Also, employees are permitted to “refuse unsafe work” activities and conditions.
Every workplace should have a health and safety committee to advocate on behalf of employees. Should an employee need to report unsafe conditions or refuse unsafe work, they should report their concerns to the Health and Safety Committee. If the situation cannot be resolved internally, Kevin Gray states that either the employee or a representative from the Health and Safety Committee must report the hazard to an OHS inspector immediately.
What is a Health and Safety Committee?
One of the most important pieces of maintaining healthy workplace regulations is organizing a Health and Safety Committee. Not only is this mandated by Canadian law, but it is a great way for employers to collaborate with employees regarding potential safety concerns at the workplace. There should be an even split of committee members that represent management and the non-management workforce. In situations where creating a committee is not feasible, employers may allow employees to nominate a company Health and Safety Representative whose job it is to manage workplace safety and situations wherein employees refuse to work due to safety concerns.
Kevin Gray is a facilities management expert with over 15 years’ experience in workplace regulations, human resources, facilities maintenance, project teams, and more. Based in Ontario, he currently assists employers in all matters pertaining to facilities management. For more information, visit his website.