The Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut (WSCC) has published the ‘Occupational Health and Safety Program Guide for Small Businesses.’
Available for download on the WSCC website’s OHS Program page, the Guide explains what small businesses need and why. It describes how they can build their program and includes samples and templates that can be customized for small business.
While small businesses in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut are generally not required to develop a formal OHS Program, they do need to maintain a safe workplace and operate according to the Safety Act and Occupational Health and Safety Regulations. That includes developing and implementing safe work procedures and training workers.
At times, OHS Regulations seem overwhelming for new businesses entering the playing field. That’s where WSCC can help. To complement the ‘Occupational Health and Safety Program Guide for Small Businesses’, another resource is the WSCC’s OHS Specialist – available to answer any questions a small business owner might have.
The OHS Specialist help’s employers and employees understand the OHS Regulations, and works with them to develop an OHS Program tailored to the needs of their business. The OHS Specialist can also look through a small business’s program with them and identify gaps and provide suggestions for improvement.
The WSCC OHS Specialist is also available to conduct webinars and workshops. To reach the WSCC OHS Specialist, NWT/Nunavut employers and employees can email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call the WSCC toll-free at 1-800-661-0792.
What about the WSCC?
While the WSCC is by no means a small business – the WSCC defines a small business as an operation with less than 20 employees – as industry leaders for workplace safety, they must continually ensure they maintain a strong OHS Program.
The WSCC has an Occupational Health and Safety Committee, comprised of members from across the organization, with equal representation from staff and managers. The Committee meets monthly and conducts quarterly inspections around the office, during which they ask each employee whether they see any safety concerns.
It is the responsibility of the OHS Committee to document safety concerns, make recommendations to address the concerns to senior management, and follow up to ensure the WSCC addresses the matter.
How an OHS Committee operates depends on the business and the Regulations. Depending on the needs of the small business, they can have daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly check-ins with their workers.
An OHS Committee allows workers to have a voice – reminding employees that they can speak up – while also helping the employer fulfill its OHS requirements under the Regulations. The Committee acts as an internal auditor, regularly monitoring the workplace so that serious accidents can be prevented.
Many construction companies have daily morning check-ins, called ‘Toolbox Talks’, during which a shift supervisor or manager takes 10 to 15 minutes to check in with their workers on any safety concerns, or to update workers on new Safe Operating Procedures (SOPs) – also known as safe work procedures.
For more information on Toolbox Talks, take a look at this WSCC video!
While the WSCC’s new ‘Occupational Health and Safety Program Guide for Small Businesses’ is geared towards small businesses, it’s important to note that all businesses should review their safety programs, and check in to see if their existing program is in accordance with the Regulations.
For more details
Contact the WSCC for more details.