CCOHS and Workplace Safety in Canada
It is imperative that employers provide a duty of care to their employees and follow the Canadian health and safety legislation.
Find out what the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) advises and what this means for employers and lone workers.
Canadian Workplace LegislationAll employers are subject to legal requirements to ensure the safety of their workforce. The CCOHS determines the legal regulations for businesses in Canada. The CCOHS stands for the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. CCOHS was established in 1978 by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety Act to support its regulations. In the US, the equivalent health and safety regulator is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
What is occupational health and wellness?
The CCOHS states that “there is a strong connection between the health and well being of people and their work environments. When people feel valued, respected and satisfied in their jobs and work in safe, healthy environments, they are more likely to be more productive and committed to their work”.
The CCOHS promotes a number of initiatives that support occupational health and wellness as well as ensuring employee safety.
What does the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety do?CCOHS was established in 1978 by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety Act to support its regulations. CCOHS promotes the wellbeing of Canadian employees by providing information, training, education and solutions that support health, safety and wellness programs. As a federal department corporation, CCOHS is governed by a tripartite Council – representing government, employers and labour – to ensure a balanced approach to workplace health and safety issues.
What does CCOHS advise about working alone in Canada?
The CCOHS has published detailed guidelines for employers of lone workers in Canada. This includes identifying lone working employees, undertaking risk assessments, appropriate training and the implementation of robust check-in systems. Find out more here.
Lone working hazards
According to the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC) there were 251,625 lost injury claims in 2017 and 951 workplace fatalities.
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety aims to minimise the risk of harm to employees from hazards in the workplace through stringent health and safety practices.
According to CCOHS, typical hazards include working:
- At height
- In confined spaces (such as tanks, grain bins or elevators)
- With electricity or other forms of hazardous energy
- With hazardous products
- With hazardous equipment such as chainsaws or firearms
- With the public, where there is a potential for violenc
Lone working guidance for employers
Working alone is common practice in Canada, however, working alone can make employees more vulnerable should they encounter any hazards.
CCOHS lone worker guidance states that employers of lone workers in Canada should;
- Have a check-in procedure in place
- Provide training and education in how to avoid potentially violent situations, as well as conflict resolution and mediation
- Operate a check in system with lone working employees
How do you carry out a risk assessment for lone workers?
Lone workers face a range of hazards and risks on a daily basis, that can differ from those based in a fixed or office environment.
A lone working risk assessment is a process of identifying and assessing risks associated with a job role carried out by a lone worker. When carrying out a risk assessment for lone working staff, you must consider hazards related to the work being carried out, the people they come into contact with and the different environments they travel through and work in. The purpose of the assessment is to identify what needs to be done to control health and safety risks for your lone workers and document your findings.
The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Standard Z1002 “Occupational health and safety – Hazard identification and elimination and risk assessment and control” uses the following terms:
Risk assessment – the overall process of hazard identification, risk analysis, and risk evaluation.
Hazard identification – the process of finding, listing, and characterizing hazards.
Risk analysis – a process for comprehending the nature of hazards and determining the level of risk.
Risk evaluation – the process of comparing an estimated risk against given risk criteria to determine the significance of the risk.
Risk control – actions implementing risk evaluation decisions.
Your records should be simple, easy to understand and focus on the control systems you have put in place. Keeping a record will allow you to review past risk assessments and provides you with base evidence should an accident or incident occur.
What is WHMIS and is it needed for lone workers?
WHMIS stands for Workplace Hazardous Material Information System. WHMIS is a comprehensive system for providing information on the safe use of hazardous products in Canadian workplaces, via product labels and worker education and training programs.
All employers whose workplaces handle hazardous materials or products are required to show due diligence in ensuring their employees are WHMIS trained.
Working with hazardous products is an identified risk to lone workers and therefore any lone worker who is exposed to hazardous materials should be educated and trained on the risks and safe use of products in line with the WHMIS regulations.
Keeping lone workers safe with technology
Being able to monitor your employee’s whereabouts is extremely important in keeping them safe, as accidents can occur at any time.
Regular communications should be maintained with lone working staff and procedures put in place so that employees can quickly communicate with their employer and raise the alarm if needed.
Manual methods of monitoring can be time-consuming, unreliable and often include a large amount of paperwork. Significant advances in mobile technology have led many companies to switch to app-based lone worker solutions to help them monitor and protect their remote staff.
CCOHS encourages employers to develop emergency procedures and have regular check-ins with lone working staff, stating that cell phones will usually be the main mode of communication.
StaySafe is an easy-to-use app and online monitoring Hub that utilises an app downloaded onto employees’ cell phones.
The app offers a way for lone workers to raise an alarm in a dangerous situation whilst the Hub monitors the location of lone workers in real-time so that assistance can be sent directly to an employee in an emergency.
Before a period of lone work or travel, employees start a timed session on the app which can be viewed by a monitor on the cloud-based Hub. If an employee fails to end their lone working session safely, a session expiry alert will be sent to their employer or chosen monitor.
The app features check-in reminders which prompt users to check-in routinely to confirm that they are safe. If a worker finds themselves in a dangerous situation, they can trigger a panic alert and help can be quickly dispatched to their location.