The biggest safety & health risks every employer needs to know

World Day for Safety and Health at Work is celebrated annually on April 28th. This day aims to promote the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases globally. Ensuring the safety of employees is crucial for any business. If health and safety risks are not addressed, there can be immediate consequences that go beyond employee safety such as legal action, imprisonment, and fines.

Wendy Irwin, Health & Safety Consultant at BrightHR Canada, has put together the three most common health and safety risks in the workplaces as well as tips for employers on how to best manage them.

Risk 1: Slips, trips, and falls – protecting staff from minor or serious injury.

Slips, trips, and falls are all considered workplace accidents in Canada. Latest statistics from the Association of Worker Compensation Boards of Canada indicate over 99,000 of these types of injuries are reported as Lost Time Claims across Canada each year. If an employee falls, slips, or injures themselves at work, it's essential to record the incident immediately. Under the Canadian Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, all employers have a duty of care to assess risks (including slips and trips) to prevent workplace accidents.

However, even with all the necessary precautions in place, employees can still get hurt. Common causes of accidents include fatigue, distraction, and clutter in the workplace. Canadian health and safety laws require all floors to be appropriate, in good condition, and free from obstruction.

To prevent accidents and ensure staff safety, employers must identify potential hazards that could lead to a serious fall. Using software that allows you to record hazards and assess risks can significantly reduce accidents and provide an accurate record to help avoid disputes or claims.

Risk 2: Exertion Body Injuries – Musculoskeletal Injuries (MSIs) or Disorders (MSDs)

Musculoskeletal injuries (MSIs) or disorders (MSDs) are among the leading causes of WCB claims in Canada. Employers are required by law to take all reasonable precautions to provide a safe and hazard-free workplaces to their employees. This includes addressing the risk factors associated with MSIs.

To prevent these injuries, hazard assessments should be conducted to identify factors contributing to MSIs or MSDs and determine ways to control the associated risks. In addition to risk assessments, it’s also important to provide training for employees on how to properly engage in physical activities. For example, how to safely carry a heavy object.

Employers must remain committed to protecting their employees from exertion-related injuries by continuously monitoring and improving workplace conditions and practices.

By conducting thorough hazard assessments and implementing effective risk control measures, employers can significantly reduce the occurrence of exertion-related injuries and the associated WCB claims and benefit insurance claims. This commitment to employee well-being not only enhances workplace safety but also fosters a healthier and more productive work environment.

Risk 3: Workplace Violence, Bullying & Harassment

According to a study conducted by Western University, the University of Toronto, and the Canadian Labour Congress, almost two in three (65%) of survey respondents experienced at least one behaviour or practice of harassment and violence at work in the past two years. It’s evident that workplace violence and harassment are a significant concern in Canada.

A healthy work environment has a direct impact on workplace productivity and morale. As the employer, you must take all reasonable precautions for the health and safety of your staff. This includes taking steps to prevent bullying and harassment in the workplace.

Employers are required by law to establish policies and programs addressing these issues in both provincial and federal jurisdictions, under OHS Acts & Regulations. Organizations must display a commitment statement, develop a comprehensive policy outlining reporting, investigation, and outcomes, and train all employees on the policy and program.

Despite these measures, incidents may still occur, leading to potential WCB claims, company liability, and OHS inspections. Employers must remain vigilant and proactive in identifying and addressing any instances of violence or harassment in the workplace to ensure a safe and respectful environment for all employees.

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