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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