Employers – understanding and exercising responsibilities
Employers must take every reasonable precaution to ensure the health and safety of people at or near the workplace.
Some of the main employer responsibilities under the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act are to:
- Provide a safe workplace
- Ensure training on how to do the work safely
- Ensure equipment is safe, with all guards in place
- Inform employees on what could harm them and the safety measures to take
- Offer clear direction on who employees talk to if something isn’t safe
- Based on OHS requirements, have a Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee (a JOHSC) or safety representatives in place
- Work together with the JOHSC, safety reps and with provincial OHS officers
- Create an occupational health and safety policy and/or program as required by the Act
- Follow the OHS Act and regulations
A number of factors determine what can be considered reasonable care and precautions. These include:
- How much knowledge and experience does the employer have?
What is the nature of the work? How likely, and how severe, is the potential harm?
- How are hazards being controlled?
- Is there a safer alternative?
Putting proper safety measures in place to show reasonable care and precautions often refers to how the employer is showing “due diligence.” Due diligence is also measurable by its absence. For example:
- An employer should have known about the situation, but did nothing to make themselves aware
- An employer did not follow an existing rule or procedure
- An employer knew about an unsafe situation, but…
- took no steps to correct it, or
- did not refer it to someone who could correct it, or
- did not warn workers about it
The OHS Act and regulations describe employer responsibilities in detail. Employers are encouraged to read these documents, and learn more about what they mean for their workplaces.