Due Diligence Required

by mcd_souter on September 7, 2011

in due diligence, safety programs

There always seems to be heated debate over who is responsible for workplace incidents. (Regulation 851 of the Ontario Health & Safety Act and Regulation for Industrial Establishments Sec. 25 covers the responsibilities of the Employer)

Let’s take a look at the concept of “due diligence”….

Applied to Occupational Health and Safety, “due diligence” also known as “due care”, essentially states that “employers shall take all reasonable precautions to prevent injuries or accidents in the workplace”.   Sec 25 (2) (h)

In Canada when an accident occurs, the burden is on the accused to avoid conviction by proving that all reasonable precautions were taken to avoid that particular kind of accident.  Failure to provide due diligence, at all times, is considered negligence.  By law, due diligence is the only available defense to a crime that is one of strict liability.

The sooner you get started on a thorough due diligence/health & safety plan, the sooner you begin to build your defense in the event of a workplace accident or injury.  It is not enough that you take the normal standard of care in your industry – you must show that you took “every reasonable precaution”.

It is important for everyone, at all levels, to know and understand what exactly is required of them in their jobs and how to work safety.  This will save money as a result of less lost wages, lower maintenance costs resulting from improper operating techniques and improved productivity.

To exercise due diligence, an employer must implement, and continuously update, a plan to identify possible workplace hazards along with the appropriate corrective action to prevent accidents or injuries from happening due to those hazards. Supervisors and employees must all be made aware of the requirements of the law and work together to ensure 100% compliance of the health and safety policies and procedures implemented by the employer.

If little or no training has been provided up to this point, then this can prove to be an overwhelming task. Where do you begin when developing your “due diligence” plan? There will be numerous, affordable programs available that offer you the flexibility to train employees at times that suit your organization’s needs. These classroom courses, when completed, should be certificate programs that will allow you to begin your documentation process.

It is recommended that you consider following up the classroom safety courses with on-site, task-specific training sessions or evaluation.  This reinforces the lessons learned in the classroom and also helps to identify any other potential problems that may exist with an operator.  Supervisors, even though many are not qualified operators themselves, must be able to recognize a dangerous situation and take the necessary steps to immediately correct it.

When putting together a Due Diligence/Health & Safety Plan here are some other things that should be considered:

  • Health and safety policies and procedures;
  • Employee conduct rules & best practices;
  • Training records of all employees, including supervisors;
  • Records of workplace inspections and audits;
  • Formation of a Joint Health & Safety Committee
  • Certifying members of the JHSC
  • Keeping minutes of the JHSC meetings;
  • First Aid station & training of first aid providers
  • Accident/incident prevention and reporting procedures;

Does your workplace have a Due Diligence/Health & Safety Plan?

Next post I will explain in a little more detail “How to Create a Simple Health & Safety Plan” for your workplace.

Please share your comments below.

Remember   –   Think Safety…Work Safely

Dedicated to helping you on your Health & Safety Journey,

Sandra McDonald- Souter
Health & Safety Trainer & Consultant

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No matter what kind of job you work at…Safety is Everyone’s Responsibility!!!

The results of a workplace accident can be minimal or tragic. A workplace accident can cost the worker and the company a lot of lost time and money.  Accidents in the workplace happen for a number of reasons and result in many direct and indirect costs.

Employees need to stay alert and aware at all times to avoid accidents.  It is important to train workers to think about the consequences for themselves as well as others.  Keeping safety in mind everyday will help reduce injuries, damage to equipment or property and ensure that everyone returns home to their family at the end of the day.

It is important for owners and supervisors to be aware of the most common causes for workplace accidents and be able to spot the risk factors and take steps to set policies and procedures to prevent accidents.

You might recognize some of these common causes of workplace accidents;
* Overtired from lack of sleep or overwork.
* Distracted or not focused on the task at hand.
* Improper technique or lack of training, especially when dealing with machinery or manually operated equipment.
* Carelessness or rushing to complete a task.

There is more than pure economics related to the real cost of an accident in the workplace.

How Much Does A Workplace Accident Cost The Employee?

  • Depending on the severity of the injury it could mean lost wages of a few days, weeks,  months or permanently.  Even if you are entitled to Worker’s Compensation it could be weeks or months before you actually receive any money.
  • There is the possibility of pain and suffering in the short term or even permanently.
  • There could be stress associated with fear of returning to work or never being able to return to work.
  • The employee could be demoralized and disheartened about not being able to contribute and support their family.

How Much Does A Workplace  Accident Cost The Employer?

  • The WSIB  insurance premiums will go up.  There is a premium increase of 10% for claims over $5000 and a 25% increase for a  fatality.
  • There could be a drop in productivity when an employee is off, especially for an extended time.
  •  Cost to hire and train a permanent or temporary replacement for the injured worker.
  • There may be costs associated with repairing or replacing damaged tools and equipment.
  • The cost of an accident investigation and the implementation of measures (possible WSIB Workwell Audit) to correct the situation that caused the accident or injury to occur.
  • New safety training classes to ensure the same accident never occurs again.
  • Depending on the accident and how it occurred some employers may face fines from the MOL as well as a civil law suit.
  • The MOL may issue a stop work order until the problem has been fixed.
  • Customers may also be affected by a slow down or complete shut down in productivity/supply of goods and/or services.

These are just some of the costs of a workplace accident. The indirect costs are often much higher than the direct costs.  The after effects can ripple down to other people at work, members of the accident victim’s family,  the company and even the company customers.

This is why it is so  important to  think safety and work safely at all times.  Safety is Everyone’s Responsibility!   Watch out for the safety of others as well as your own.  Have another day – by being safe today!

Please share your comments or personal stories below.

Remember   –   Think Safety…Work Safely

Dedicated to helping you on your Health & Safety Journey,

Sandra McDonald- Souter
Health & Safety Trainer & Consultant

 

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