Occupational Health and Safety refers to the requirements an employee and employer are expected to implement and follow to ensure organizational safety and well-being. In British Columbia, WorkSafeBC establishes the organizational standards that employers are expected to implement.
This section outlines WorkSafeBC requirements and provides tools and guidelines for how MSAs and Physician Societies can meet these obligations and support the health and well-being of their employees.
If you have additional questions or concerns, please consult your Engagement Partner.
ROLES & RESPONSIBILITIES
- Establish and enforce health and safety policies and regulations from WorkSafeBC and the Workers’ Compensation Act.
- Train managers in their health and safety responsibilities.
- Ensure that all workers are provided with the information, instruction, training and supervision necessary to protect their health and safety.
- Ensure all workers are properly equipped and use personal protective equipment as needed.
- Consult and cooperate with the Joint Occupational Health and Safety (JOHS) Committee or Worker Safety Representative, and WorkSafeBC prevention officers.
- Conduct an annual review of the health and safety program.
- Maintain a safe, clean and healthy work environment at all worksites.
- Ensure first aid attendants are appointed for each worksite.
- Arrange for the training of first aid attendants and track their certification.
- Ensure that first aid supplies are stocked and first aid records are kept in a secure manner.
- Ensure that all workers know where emergency supplies are stored.
- Ensure that instructions for calling for help in an emergency are posted in a central location.
- Ensure that all workers are made aware of all known or reasonably foreseeable health and safety hazards, including any risk of violence.
- Correct unsafe acts and conditions without delay.
- Report injuries to WorkSafeBC and the HR Department in the prescribed manner.
- Investigate all accidents, injuries and hazards.
- Perform their work in a safe manner and encourage co-workers to do the same.
- Use the personal protective equipment provided.
- Learn and follow safe work procedures.
- Ensure their ability to work safely is not affected by alcohol, drugs or other causes.
- Report injuries, accidents, unsafe acts, hazards and broken equipment immediately to their supervisor.
- Correct hazards in a safe manner.
- Inform management of any physical or mental impairment which may affect their ability to work safely.
- Participate in inspections and investigations, where appropriate.
- Help create a safe workplace by recommending ways to improve health and safety programs.
- Cooperate with the JOHS Committee or Worker Safety Representative, and WorkSafeBC prevention officers.
WORKER HEALTH AND SAFETY REPRESENTATIVES & JOHS COMMITTEES
- As stipulated by WorkSafeBC, once a workplace has more than 9 workers but fewer than 20 workers, the organization requires a Worker Health and Safety Representative. A Worker Health and Safety Representative is an employee who has been tasked with ensuring that WorkSafeBC standards are being met, and for executing and implementing the occupational health and safety requirements.
- If a workplace has 20 or more workers, the organization must have a JOHS Committee. The primary role of a Worker Health and Safety Representative or a JOHS Committee is to promote the improvement of the occupational health and safety, and the occupational environment, of workers. This may include:
- Making recommendations to address any unhealthy or unsafe situations in the workplace
- Monitoring the effectiveness of the organization’s health and safety policies and procedures
- Ensuring that accident investigations and regular inspections are carried out as required
- Other duties as required
- The Joint Occupational Health and Safety (JOHS) Committee must be made up of an equal number of employee and employer representatives.
- Worker Health and Safety Representatives and members of a JOHS Committee must be provided with training by the employer to learn about their duties, the requirements around conducting workplace inspections, the requirements around responding to a refusal of unsafe work and more.
- Training tools and information offered by WorkSafeBC can be found here.
- Use the Worker Health & Safety Representative Job Description or the JOHS Committee Terms of Reference to clarify and formalize the duties of the Worker Health and Safety Representative or the JOHS Committee. These documents will outline roles and responsibilities and other critical administrative matters to ensure clarity and accountability.
- For JOHS Committees, a JOHS Committee Meeting Agenda should be drafted for each meeting and distributed well in advance to members. The meeting agenda provides space for the meeting’s minute taker to write notes, reminds members to confirm the minutes from the previous meeting, and helps ensure no task falls through the cracks and is forgotten.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY TRAINING
- Every organization is required to provide new and existing workers with occupational health and safety training and/or orientation to ensure they are familiar with the organization’s health and safety processes and policies.
- On-going health and safety training must be provided by the employer to ensure workers are up to date on occupational health and safety best practice.
- Use and adapt the Health & Safety Orientation Checklist to ensure all new and current workers are oriented to the protocols and measures your organization has implemented to ensure their safety, health and well-being.
- Require the worker and their manager to sign off that they have received a health and safety orientation and save the completed checklist and signed form in their employee file.
One of the most important aspects of occupational health and safety is regular workplace inspections. The purpose of a workplace inspection is to identify occupational hazards, prevent unsafe working conditions from developing, and assess risk in the workplace on an ongoing basis.
- Conduct regular workplace inspections.
- Conduct a workplace inspection whenever an incident occurs.
- Post in a central location the details about hazards that have been identified through the workplace inspection.
- Ensure the workplace addresses any hazards identified in a timely manner.
- File all workplace inspections and hazard reports in a central location.
- Conduct monthly workplace inspections.
- Adapt and use the Workplace Inspection Checklist to guide and record the inspection.
- Use the Hazard Report to document any hazards identified through the workplace inspection.
RIGHT TO REFUSE UNSAFE WORK
- If a worker has reasonable cause to believe that performing a job or task puts themselves or someone else at risk, they must not perform the job or task. The employer, including the Worker Health and Safety Representative or the JOHS Committee, is responsible for taking the appropriate steps to determine if the work is unsafe and remedy the situation without delay.
- If a worker still views work as unsafe after the employer has said it is safe to perform a job or task, an investigation must take place in the presence of the employee and the Worker Health and Safety Representative or a member of the JOHS Committee.
- If the matter is still not resolved, the worker and the employer must contact WorkSafeBC. A prevention officer will investigate the situation and provide a workable solution.
- To determine an adequate and appropriate level of first aid coverage in the workplace, the employer is expected to first conduct a first aid assessment. A first aid assessment involves:
- Identifying the number of workplaces
- Identifying the workplace hazard rating as determined by WorkSafeBC
- Considering the travel time to a hospital
- Identifying the number of workers on a shift
- Determining the applicable minimum levels of first aid as stipulated in the OHS Regulation (Schedule 3A)
- After completing a first aid assessment, the employer can review the findings and take the necessary steps to put proper first aid procedures in place.
- When workplace incidents do occur, any necessary first aid treatments will be carried out immediately by a certified first aid attendant in the workplace, whenever possible.
- Details of any treatment must be recorded on a First Aid Record which should be attached to the first aid kit itself.
- An employer may consider conducting a first aid drill once a year. This drill should test workers’ awareness of how to call for first aid, how well the communication system works, and the capability of first aid attendants. It will also help determine if the current levels of first aid are adequate to deal with incidents mostly likely to occur in the workplace.
EMERGENCY RESPONSE & PREPAREDNESS
- To determine an adequate and appropriate level of emergency preparedness, the employer is expected to first conduct a vulnerability assessment to identify which hazards pose a threat to the workplace. After completing a vulnerability assessment, the employer can review the findings and take the necessary steps to put proper emergency procedures in place.
- Common elements to be considered in an Emergency Response and Preparedness Plan include pre-emergency preparation and provisions for alerting and evacuating staff, handling casualties, and for containing hazards.
- Workers must be knowledgeable about evacuation routes, safe meeting locations, and the location of emergency kits.
- A workplace may consider having at least four (4) hard copies of the Emergency Response and Preparedness Plan: one copy to be posted in a common area in the workplace; one for the MSA executive; one to be stored at their office; and one to be stored in their vehicle or home.
WORKING ALONE OR IN ISOLATION
- The employer must have procedures in place to ensure the well-being of workers who work alone or in isolation. Lone workers may be at increased risk of confrontations or even violence, particularly if they are working at night. Lone workers must be able to get assistance if they are injured or if there is an emergency.
- The employer may consider implementing check-in procedures for workers working alone or in isolation. These check-in procedures may include:
- Designated time intervals for checking a worker’s well-being (these time intervals must be developed in consultation with the employee assigned to work alone or in isolation)
- Procedures to follow in case the worker cannot be contacted, including provisions for emergency rescue
- A designated person to establish contact with the worker at predetermined intervals, and a means to record the results of these checks
- Procedures for checking an worker’s well-being at the end of the work shift
BIO-HAZARDOUS EXPOSURE PREVENTION
- To determine an adequate and appropriate level of bio-hazardous exposure preparedness, the employer is expected to first conduct a risk assessment to identify which hazards pose a threat to the workplace. After completing a risk assessment, the employer can review the findings and take the necessary steps to put proper exposure control procedures in place.
- Common elements to be considered in an Exposure Control Plan include the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE), appropriate vaccinations for workers, and the disposal of bio-hazardous materials.
- Workers must be knowledgeable about how and when to report exposure incidents.
REPORTING WORKPLACE ACCIDENTS, ILLNESS, INJURY, NEAR MISSES & FATALITIES
- In the event of a workplace accident, illness or injury, the affected worker must immediately seek and receive first aid in the workplace. A certified first aid attendant must be notified to treat and assess the individual. If the injury cannot be treated in the workplace, the worker must travel to the nearest medical facility.
- For a serious injury, 9-1-1 must be called to secure immediate medical attention. If the injury does not require ambulatory transportation, the employer must arrange immediate transportation to a facility. The worker may be accompanied to the medical facility by another colleague who can record the details of the incident.
- Once at the medical facility, the attending medical professional must be informed that the worker is being treated for a work-related accident, illness or injury.
- At the medical facility, the worker must complete WorkSafeBC’s Form 6A: Worker’s Report of Injury or Occupational Disease as soon as is reasonable.
- All worker are expected to cooperate with emergency personnel to address the situation.
- With the support of the Worker Health and Safety Representative or the JOHS Committee, the employer is responsible for immediately conducting an investigation into any incident that involves:
- Serious injury to a worker or a worker’s death
- Injury requiring medical treatment
- Minor injury, or no injury, but had the potential for causing serious injury
- Major structural failure or collapse
- Major release of hazardous substances
- Dangerous incident involving explosive materials
- Blasting incident causing personal injury
- Immediately after an incident requiring an investigation occurs, the employer must contact WorkSafeBC.
- Within 48 hours of the incident, the employer must conduct a preliminary investigation and prepare WorkSafeBC’s Employer Incident Investigation Report (Form 52E40).
- Within 3 days of the incident, if a worker was injured the employer must submit WorkSafeBC’s Form 7: Employer’s Report of Injury or Occupational Disease.
- Within 30 days, the employer must complete and submit a full investigation report to WorkSafeBC, including any corrective actions.
- Additional information and documents may need to be prepared, depending on the information provided by WorkSafeBC. The Workplace Incident Report template may be used to record the details of the incident.
RECORDS & STATISTICS
- The employer must maintain records and statistics relating to occupational health and safety as required by the Workers’ Compensation Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation.
- Occupational health and safety records and statistics may be used to:
- Monitor and evaluate the health and safety performance of the workplace and its workers
- Identify common factors or trends in accidents or incidents
- Monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of corrective actions