Government and regulatory
What went Hong: Post it notes
By James Hong
By James Hong
Occupational health and safety posting requirements for construction sites vary from province to province. However, there are federal requirements applicable to all provinces. The breakdown of federal and provincial requirements can be found on the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety website. Let’s go through some of the requirements that apply to all provinces.
Part II of the Canada Labour Code is available online at canada.ca under the health safety reports summary. Part II of the Canada Labour Code is specific to occupational health and safety, emphasizing the goal to reduce workplace injuries and accidents in federal jurisdiction. Furthermore, Part II of the Canada Labour Code describes the major responsibilities for occupational health and safety for both employers and employees subject to the code.
A statement of the employer’s general health and safety policy is often overlooked, and more often written incorrectly, without an updated stamp or signature. The policy must be signed with a new verified date stamp every three years.
Part II of the code also stipulates every employer that controls the activity of employees are responsible for all permanent and temporary buildings and structures to meet the prescribed standards. This includes installing guards, guard-rails, barricades and fences in accordance with required standards. The employer must investigate, record and report all accidents, harassment and violence, occupational illnesses and other hazardous occurrences known to the employer and make these reports available to employees.
The code also specifies that employers must keep health and safety records, provide first aid kits and first aid attendants, make available personal facilities, potable water and be responsible for the safety of mobile and vehicle safety. The telephone number of a health and safety contact for reporting unsafe worksite environment issues such as noise, air quality and any other safety issues, is required to be posted in clear sight. The location of first aid stations and first aid rooms, a list of first aid attendants and contact details, information regarding transport procedures for injured employees and an up-to-date list of telephone numbers must be created for use in emergencies. This includes a map of the route to the closest hospital as well as all emergency, non-emergency and first responder numbers. The details of the workplace evacuation plan and procedures, along with the mapped evacuation points and the emergency assembly location should also be included.
It can’t be emphasized enough: the most important thing about the rights of employees is to exercise those rights. Employees’ rights are simple to remember. First is the right to know: to be informed of foreseeable hazards in the workplace and to be provided with the information, instruction, training and supervision necessary to protect health and safety.Next is the right to participate: ensuring methods of communication are appropriate for all employees, including employees with special needs. Finally, there’s the right to refuse dangerous work.
There is of course much more to this code, and it is worth a closer look by both employees and employers. Just a note on this matter: should any breach of these laws occur, a response of “I wasn’t aware” is not a reason health and safety authorieis will accept. At minimum, a jobsite can be shut down until an investigation is carried out costing the company money, time and reputation. Serious breaches have resulted in major fines, and in some cases lawsuits that have crippled companies and individuals from ever doing business again.
Be safe. Be well.
James Hong is an OHS consultant and writer for the construction industry.