Due Diligence & Your Health and Safety Program: What’s the Connection?
Running a business presents its fair share of challenges, one of which is complying with Health and Safety legislation.
A successful and effective day-to-day Health and Safety program must go beyond the oversimplification of just “being careful.” After all, without critical context into the what, where, and how of a situation — how can you be careful?
So, what’s the logical starting point? We believe it starts with understanding the concept of reasonable care or due diligence.
Due diligence means employers take all reasonable precautions under the circumstances to protect the health and safety of their workers. This obligation of care appears in the Occupational Health and Safety Acts of each province. Here are a few quick examples:
- Ontario: The Occupational Health and Safety Act 25 (2)(h)
- British Columbia: The Workers Compensation Act Part 2 Division 4 Section 21 General duties of employers
- Quebec: The ACT RESPECTING OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY section 51
- Nova Scotia: The Occupational Health and Safety Act under DUTIES AND PRECAUTIONS Employers’ precautions and duties 13 (1).
What do they share in common? Each states in their own terms that employers must take every reasonable precaution to protect the health and safety of workers.
6 Steps to Create a Robust Health & Safety Program
The goal of any Health & Safety Program is to keep your people safe while boosting compliance with current regulations.
So, how can you demonstrate due diligence? Your ability as an employer to show that you have acted with due diligence depends on 6 basic elements:
- Respect current regulatory laws: You need to respect the Health and Safety Acts, Regulations or Codes of your province or the Federal Acts and Regulations if you are under Federal jurisdiction. This is the baseline starting point for any Health & Safety program.
- Identify H&S weak points in your workplace: Next, you need to formally identify any hazards your workers may be exposed to while working at your worksite.
- Eliminate or control hazards at the source: With a deep understanding of your hazard landscape, the next step is to eliminate hazards at the source. In situations where this isn’t possible or practical, you will need to implement controls following the hierarchy of effectiveness (from the most to the least effective).
- Communicate hazards to your teams: With the right controls in place, it’s time to communicate any hazards to your workers and train them on the appropriate controls.
- Supervise your teams using the controls: Even the best controls can fail if your teams don’t understand how to use them properly. Supervise the implementation and usage of controls to ensure they are complying with all appropriate controls.
- Measure and review your controls: Lastly, you need to establish a benchmark for success. This means assessing the effectiveness of your controls through a formal review process, allowing you to ensure controls are receiving ongoing maintenance and improvements whenever needed.
And most importantly, the key to making all of these steps successful is to formally document everything in writing.
Building the Foundation for Your Health & Safety Program
You now understand all of the elements required to lay a strong foundation for your Health and Safety program. We’ve used this same model to support companies in all industries through Canada as they work to build effective Health & Safety programs.
Are you looking to take a proactive approach to Health & Safety within your organization?
WE can help! Windley Ely has the expertise to help you build a Health & Safety program that will allow you to exercise your due diligence, making your business a safer place to work.
Click here to learn more about how we can help you create a Health & Safety program built using best practices and our decades of expertise.