Building an Effective Health and Safety Management System


Digitized by the Internet Archive in 2016

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

What is the Partnerships in injury Reduction Program? 1

What is the “Mission” and “Vision” of the Partnerships Program? 1

What is a Health and Safety Management System? 1

How is a Health and Safety Management System Evaluated? 2

What is a Certificate of Recognition and what are the benefits of obtaining one? 2

How long is the COR valid and how do I maintain it? 3

How to develop your Health and Safety Management System 3

Where can I get help with Developing a Health and Safety Management System? 3

Alberta’s Certifying Partners 4

Glossary 5

Components of a Health and Safety Management System 8

1. Management Leadership and Organizational Commitment 8

2. Hazard Identification and Assessment 1 1

3. Hazard Control 16

4. Ongoing Inspections 19

5. Qualifications, Orientations and Training 22

6. Emergency Response Plan 24

7. Incident Investigation 27

8. Program Administration 30

Appendix Sample Forms

Company Health and Safety Policy


Assignment of Responsibility


Job Inventory Worksheet


Hazard Identification and Assessment Worksheet


Critical Task Worksheet


Work Site Inspection Checklist


Health and Safety Orientation Checklist


incident Report


incident Investigation Report


Witness Statement


Emergency Contact List





What is the Partnerships in Injury Reduction Program?

First established in 1989 as the Partnerships in Health and Safety program, Partnerships in Injury Reduction (Partnerships) is a voluntary program designed to reduce losses caused by workplace injuries and illnesses. The program brings government together with industry and safety associations, employers, and the Workers’ Compensation Board of Alberta (WCB) to encourage Alberta employers to build effective health and safety management systems.

The Partnerships Program is based on the premise that when employers and workers build effective Health and Safety Management Systems in their own workplaces, the social and financial costs of workplace injuries and illnesses will be reduced.

What is the “Mission” and “Vision” of the Partnerships Program?

The mission of the Partnerships Program is:

“to work with stakeholders to encourage employers and workers to build effective Health and Safety Management Systems."

The vision of the Partnerships Program is:

“a culture where effective health and safety is an integral part of every workplace."

What is a Health and Safety Management System?

A Health and Safety Management System involves the introduction of processes designed to decrease the incidence of injury and illness in the employer’s operation. Successful implementation of the system requires management commitment to the system, effective allocation of resources, and a high level of employee participation. The scope and complexity of a Health and Safety Management System will vary according to the size and type of workplace.

The following elements are the basic components of a Health and Safety Management System, and are all very much interdependent.

1 . Management Leadership and Organizational Commitment

2. Hazard Identification and Assessment

3. Hazard Control

4. Work Site Inspections

5. Worker Competency and Training

6. Incident Reporting and Investigation

7. Emergency Response Planning

8. Program Administration



How is a Health and Safety Management System Evaluated?

Employers participating in the Partnerships Program conduct regular reviews of their Health and Safety Management Systems through annual audits. Audits are conducted by certified auditors using Partnerships’ approved audit instruments that cover the basic elements of a Health and Safety Management System, and require the use of personnel interviews, documentation review and workplace observation as data gathering techniques.

What is a Certificate of Recognition and what are the benefits of obtaining one?

A Certificate of Recognition (COR) is issued jointly by a Certifying Partner and Partnerships in Injury Reduction (Partnerships) when an employer’s Health and Safety Audit meets Partnerships standards and successfully achieves a minimum audit score of 80% overall, and at least 50% in each element, as determined by an external certified auditor.

Employers must achieve and maintain a COR to become eligible for financial incentives through the WCB’s PIR program, but there are many other benefits associated with the implementation of a health and safety program, including:

fewer injuries and incidents, and reduced associated costs (both direct and indirect)

better staff morale and less staff turnover

improved work environment

increased productivity and better quality

reduced absenteeism

less downtime due to equipment damage

The overall impact of injuries and illnesses on the economy is significant when both the direct and indirect costs are considered, and successful business leaders recognise that Health and Safety Management Systems are a necessary part of doing business. WCB data indicates that the total cost of claims in Alberta reaches hundreds of millions of dollars annually (see the Workers’ Compensation Board Provincial Synopsis for the most recent figures), and this number represents only the direct costs of workplace incidents. The hidden, often unrecorded, indirect costs can add up to 5 to 10 times that amount, and include costs resulting from:

property and equipment damage

production delays

training for replacement workers

investigation time


missed deadlines

overtime costs

reduced employee morale

As illustrated, lost time, insurance costs, and other expenses can add up quickly. And if an incident draws media coverage, the employer may also find their sales, image, and reputation will suffer adverse effects. And of course, the true cost of human suffering cannot be accounted for completely.

Implementation of an effective Health and Safety Management System is a proactive way to prevent injuries and illnesses. While it cannot guarantee that incidents will never occur on a work site, an effective Health and Safety Management System will minimize both the number and the severity of workplace incidents, and will help demonstrate due diligence and duty of care in the



event that an incident does occur. It can also distinguish a company as an employer of choice in a competitive market, and it is not unusual for Alberta corporations to expect bidding contractors to hold a valid COR.

How Long is the COR valid and how do I maintain it?

The COR is valid for three years from the date of issue, providing that all maintenance requirements are met. The COR issue date corresponds to the last date of on-site data collection by the auditor.

To maintain a COR, an employer is required to have a maintenance audit conducted within the first calendar year after the COR issue date, and again within the second calendar year. Maintenance audits must be undertaken by a certified auditor who may be an employee of the company. Once an employer has completed their first three-year cycle, there are other options available in the maintenance years. Contact your Certifying Partner for more information on what is available.

Note that employers are expected to maintain their Health and Safety Management System at all times, and to comply with applicable Occupational Health and Safety legislation. Significant infractions may result in a comprehensive review of the employer’s existing COR, and the subsequent cancellation of COR status.

How to Develop your Health and Safety Management System?

This manual can serve as a starting point for the development of a Health and Safety Management System specific to your organisation. The following sections describe each of the eight elements that comprise a Health and Safety Management System. Also included in each section are self-evaluation questions that will help you to determine if your system is working effectively, and sample forms and checklists are also included at the end of this manual.

When beginning to develop and implement health and safety systems at any work site, it is important to remember that communication is key to success. Involve employees at all levels in the development of the system. Both workers and employers will gain from their involvement , and the system will be better as a result of their input.

Where can I get help developing a Health and Safety Management System?

Employers are encouraged to work with a Certifying Partner when they begin developing their Health and Safety Management System. Certifying Partners provide training and other health and safety resources under the mandate of the Partnerships in Injury Reduction Program, and offer training on Health and Safety Management System building, incident investigations, health and safety system audits, etc. Certifying Partners will also tell you about the benefits of a COR and help you achieve and maintain this certification.






Alberta Association for Safety Partnerships

All industries

Alberta Municipal Health & Safety Assn.

Cities, towns, villages, counties and municipal districts

Alberta Construction Safety Assn.

All construction industries

Alberta Safety Council

All industries

Alberta Corporate Human Resources

Government entities

Continuing Care Safety Assn.

Public and private long-term care facilities

Alberta Food Processors Assn.

Bakeries, meat packers & processors, breweries, miscellaneous processors, retail and food service


All petroleum-related industries

Alberta Forest Products Assn.

Member forest product manufacturers and their logging, trucking of logs, and timber management contractors

Manufacturers’ Health and Safety Assn.

All manufacturing, machine, hydraulic, and metal fabricating shops.

Alberta Hotel Safety Assn.

Hotels, motels and convention centres

Textile Rental Institute of Alberta

Dry cleaning, commercial washing, garment textile industry, linen manufacturing and rental

Alberta Motor Transport Assn.

All general trucking, specialized trucking and garbage hauling

Western Wood Truss Association of Alberta

Wood truss fabrication and home improvement centres

To obtain the most current information, go to





An evaluation of an organization’s Health and Safety Management System against an approved standard.

An individual certified by a Certifying Partner to conduct health and safety audits.

Certificate of





A certificate jointly issued by Partnerships and a Certifying Partner to employers who have successfully completed a Health and Safety Management System audit, demonstrating that their system meets the provincial Partnerships standard. A valid COR is required before an employer is eligible to receive financial incentives through the WCB's Partner in Injury Reduction (PIR) program.

An industry/safety association that has entered into an agreement with Partnerships to provide health and safety training, certify and maintain a list of auditors, and conduct quality assurance reviews on submitted audit reports.






Critical Job

Person who is adequately qualified, suitably trained, and with sufficient experience to safely perform work without supervision or with only a minimal degree of supervision.

Always striving to innovate, implement and improve on current conditions.

An individual or employer hired under contract to provide materials or services to another individual or employer.

A job with high potential for serious loss or injury.





Part of a health and safety audit, designed to determine if an employer has the required processes, policies, and procedures in place, and if adequate records are being kept.

Anyone who works for an organization (e.g. senior managers, managers, supervisors, and workers).

A situation, condition, or behaviour that has the potential to cause an injury or loss.

Health Hazard: a physical, chemical, biological or psychological hazard which may cause acute or chronic health effects in exposed employees (e.g. noise, dust, heat, ergonomics, etc.).

Safety Hazard: a substance, process, action or condition which may endanger the immediate safety of employees (e.g. chemical burns, shear points, slips and falls, etc.).

Hazard A process used to identify and evaluate the health and safety hazards associated

Assessment with job tasks. Provides a method for prioritizing health and safety hazards.



Hazard Control

Method used to eliminate or control loss.

Engineering Controls: Preferred method of hazard control if elimination is not possible; physical controls implemented at the design, installation, or engineering stages (e.g. guards, auto shutoff, etc.).

Administrative Controls: Processes developed by the employer to control hazards not eliminated by engineering controls (e.g. safe work policies, practices and procedures, job scheduling or rotation, and training).

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): equipment used or clothing worn by a person for protection from health or safety hazards associated with conditions at a work site (e.g. gloves, safety glasses, fall protection, etc.). Used when engineering or administrative methods cannot fully control the hazards.



In relation to any occupation,

(a) a danger that is not normal for that occupation, or

(b) a danger under which a person engaged in that occupation would not normally carry out the person’s work.


A preventable, undesired and unexpected event that results, or has the potential to result, in physical harm to a person or damage to property (loss or no loss).


A planned, systematic evaluation or examination of an activity or work site, checking or testing against established standards.


Part of a health and safety audit. A method used to gather and verify information about an organization’s health and safety system. Includes either formal discussion using standard questions, or a questionnaire.

Job Inventory

A comprehensive list of jobs/tasks produced from a systematic review of all jobs/tasks in the work area.


Provincial or federal government standards in the form of written acts, regulations, and codes.


A person who administers and/or supervises the affairs of a business, office, or organization.

Near Miss

An undesired event that under slightly different circumstances could have resulted in personal harm, property damage, or loss. Also referred to as an incident.


Part of a health and safety audit designed to allow an auditor to observe and verify specific conditions at a work site.

Partners in Injury Reduction (PIR-WCB)

Partners in Injury Reduction is a voluntary program offered to employers by the Workers’ Compensation Board of Alberta. The PIR offers financial incentives to registered employers who successfully achieve a Certificate of Recognition (COR).


The documented principles by which an organization is guided in its management of affairs.


Employer documents retained on file.


The chance of injury, damage, or loss.

Root Cause

The underlying or basic factors which contribute to an incident.



Safe Work Practice

Safe Work/Safe Job Procedure





Unsafe Act




Work Site


Workers’ Compensation Board of Alberta (WCB)

A written set of guidelines which establish a standard of performance for an activity or work process.

A written, step-by-step instruction of how to perform a task from beginning to end.

Brief escorted tour or discussion to allow the auditor to become familiar with the work site(s) and any areas where special caution is required.

Anyone who directs the work of another.

A group of interrelated items, individuals, policies, procedures, records, etc. that achieve desired results.

Inappropriate action taken by a person that could result in loss.

A condition that could result in loss.

Any person present at the work site who is not under the direct control of the employer (e.g. courier).

A location where a worker is, or is likely to be, engaged in any occupation and includes any vehicle or mobile equipment used by a worker in an occupation.

An employee supervised by a manager or supervisor/foreman.

The Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) Alberta is a not-for-profit organization legislated to administer the workers' compensation system for the province.



1. Management Leadership and Organizational Commitment

For any Health and Safety Management System to be effective, management must show leadership and commitment to the program. The first step in accomplishing this is to put the organization's expectations around health and safety into writing by developing a Health and Safety Policy.

An organization's Health and Safety Policy should contain:

A declaration of management’s commitment to health and safety

Overall goals and objectives of the health and safety program

General health and safety responsibilities of management, workers, contractors and visitors while at the work site

A requirement to comply with applicable government legislation, and

A requirement to comply with the organization’s own health and safety standards.

Employees (such as members of the Health and Safety Committee) should be involved in writing the policy, and the senior-operating officer must indicate the commitment of management by signing and dating the document. Ensure all employees are aware of the policy’s contents by prominently posting it throughout the work site, and inserting a copy in the Health and Safety Manual. The policy should also be reviewed during orientations with new and transferred employees, and any contractors doing work for the organization.

Roles and Responsibilities

Clearly defined and well-communicated health and safety roles and responsibilities for all levels of the organisation will create an expectation of a standard level of performance and accountability among employees, contractors, and visitors. All levels must be aware of their individual roles and responsibilities under both legislated and company standards. Specific health and safety responsibilities and goals can be built into job descriptions and contracts, and included in performance reviews. Management expectations and the consequences of not adopting health and safety responsibilities must be clearly communicated to all employees (see Assignment of Responsibility in the Appendix).

Management Commitment

For a Health and Safety Management System to be effective, it is essential that management at all levels demonstrate their support of the health and safety program. This can be accomplished by their participation in health and safety leadership training, health and safety meetings, inspection tours, and incident investigations. Senior managers should also tour the work site at least once annually to communicate and reinforce healthy and safe practices and behaviours. Safety should be integrated into all operations and managed like any other company function.



Worker Participation

It has been shown that successful Health and Safety Management Systems have high levels of worker involvement. Worker participation in the development of the system is particularly important to create ownership and overall buy-in into the system. Additionally, worker participation in the development of the Health and Safety Management System will help ensure a better fit with the culture of the organisation. To promote worker participation, actively involve them in the development of hazard assessment, inspections, preventative maintenance, training, emergency response, and incident reporting systems. Look for opportunities to get workers from all areas of the organisation involved, and provide regular updates on the progress of system development to keep the feedback loop open.

Once these systems have been implemented, maintain participation through ongoing communication with the Joint Health and Safety Committee, by posting investigations and inspection reports, and soliciting and responding to worker feedback on the health and safety systems.

Joint Worksite Health and Safety Committee

A Joint Worksite Health and Safety Committee is a group of worker and employer representatives working together to identify and solve health and safety issues at the work site. The Health and Safety Committee offers employees an opportunity to become more actively involved in creating and maintaining interest in health and safety. Equal representation from all levels of the organisation should be included on the committee.

The purpose of the committee is to address health and safety concerns that cannot be dealt with in the course of daily work, and to offer recommendations for improvement to site health and safety. The committee does not have the power to make changes, but instead acts as an important communication link between the workers and management. Workers should be encouraged to report their health and safety concerns to the committee, and should expect a response, but cannot expect action by committee members. The committee is responsible for recommending how health and safety problems might be solved, not for carrying out the necessary changes. Supervisors and managers are obligated to take reasonable steps to ensure the health and safety of their workers. Communication from committee members through regular meetings, and by posting meeting minutes allows everyone on-site an opportunity to bring concerns forward for consideration.

For further information on Joint Worksite Health and Safety Committees, check the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety website for information bulletins and other resources.

Occupational Health and Safety Legislation

A current copy of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Regulation and Code and other health and safety information relevant to the operation must be available to employees at the work site. This provides workers with access to the minimum requirements for conducting activities covered by legislation, and access to information about their rights and responsibilities. Official printed versions of the legislation are available on-line from the Alberta Queen’s Printers.



Self-Evaluation Questions


Is there a written Health and Safety Policy for the organization?


Is the policy signed by the current senior operating officer?


Is the policy readily available to employees?


Are employees aware of the policy’s contents?


Have specific health and safety responsibilities been written for:







Are the following aware of their specific health and safety responsibilities covered by legislation and departmental policy:






Are all employees evaluated on their individual health and safety performance?





Does the senior operating officer communicate to employees, at least annually, the organization’s commitment to health and safety?


Do the most senior managers on site tour the work site to reinforce health and safety practices and behaviours:

Every 6 months?



Is relevant, current health and safety legislation readily available at work sites?


Is there a process in place that addresses contractor health and safety while on site?


Is there a process in place that addresses visitor health and safety while on site?


Does the employer provide the health and safety resources needed (workers, equipment methods, materials, and money) to implement and improve health and safety?



2. Hazard Identification and Assessment

The identification of hazards at a work site is the next step in the development of a Health and Safety Management System. Along with leadership commitment, hazard assessment will form the foundation of your health and safety system. It is important to proactively assess all jobs for hazards, and key personnel should be trained in the process of carefully evaluating existing and potential hazards at the work site. Involvement at all levels is important, and will make both management and workers aware of hazards that may not otherwise have been noticed until an incident occurred.

Road safety is a good example of a work-related hazard that may not normally be identified as part of a worker’s job, despite the fact that many people routinely operate a vehicle in the daily performance of their work duties. Though employers operating commercial vehicles (e.g. buses, trucks, delivery vans) will know to add “driving” as a job task that needs to be assessed for hazards, employers with workers who engage in non-commercial driving as part of their jobs may neglect to include this task as part of their hazard assessment. Given that one-third of all occupational fatalities in Alberta are related to road safety, it is important to assess the hazards inherent in conducting tasks that involve driving for work (going to off-site meetings, banking, picking up parts, etc.) , whether employees use a company vehicle or their own car to perform these functions. Work-related driving is one of the many tasks that employers must subject to a hazard identification and assessment process, in order to determine what controls can be implemented to eliminate or reduce the hazards of performing these functions.

Hazard Identification and Assessment Process

According to the Occupational Health and Safety legislation, employers are required to assess a work site for existing and potential hazards before work begins.

The Hazard Identification and Assessment process will impact many other elements of the Health and Safety Management System. As a result, it is important to take the time necessary to do the job thoroughly. Hazard assessment data can also be used to develop other elements of a Health and Safety Management System, including:

Training and Orientation: use hazard assessment data to determine what worker training needs to be done, and to build the content of employee orientations and job- specific training.

Work Site Inspections: use hazard assessment data as the basis for inspection checklists.

Emergency Response: use hazard assessments to help pinpoint areas that will require Emergency Response Plans.

Incident Investigations: hazard assessment and control data can be used to help determine if a system failure was the cause of an incident.



Hazard Identification

Occupational hazards are divided into two categories:

Health Hazards: A health hazard may produce serious and immediate (acute) health effects or cause long-term (chronic) health problems. All or part of the body may be affected. Someone with an occupational illness may not recognize the symptoms immediately. For example, noise-induced hearing loss is often not noticed until it is well advanced.

Safety Hazards: A safety hazard is anything that could endanger the immediate safety of an employee, for example, a pinch point, crush, or burn hazard.

Hazard Categories

Both health and safety hazards can be classified into the following categories:

Physical hazards, including lifting, repetitive motions, slipping, machinery, working at heights, loud noise, extreme temperatures, etc.

Chemical Hazards, including exposure to chemicals, dusts, fumes, mists and vapours.

Biological Hazards, including exposure to viruses, fungi, bacteria, moulds, body fluids, and sewage.

Psychological Hazards, including violence, stress and fatigue.

Hazard and Risk

The terms “hazard” and “risk” are often used interchangeably (and incorrectly). A hazard is a situation, condition, or behaviour that has the potential to cause an injury or loss. For example, ice on a walkway, oven mitts with burn holes, or an unlabelled bottle of liquid are hazards. In contrast, risk is the chance of injury, damage, or loss and is usually expressed as a probability. For example, the risk of slipping on the icy walkway is high.

Imminent Danger

Some hazards are significant enough to present a situation of imminent danger. The Occupational Health and Safety Act requires that workers stop performing work if they believe that an imminent danger to their health and safety exists. Imminent danger in relation to any occupation means a danger that is not normal for that occupation, or a danger under which a person engaged in that occupation would not normally carry out the work (OHS Act, 35(2)).

Sources of Hazards

There are many sources of hazards in a workplace, however, the three most likely sources that should be considered are:

People: Lack of training, poor communication, rushing, fatigue, and other factors may cause at-risk behaviours.

Equipment and Materials: Some equipment, tools and materials used in the job process are inherently hazardous, and others become hazardous over time due to inadequate maintenance, storage, or disposal.

Workplace Environment: Factors such as facility layout, ventilation and lighting, walking surfaces, temperature and other variables can all be sources of hazards.



Hazard Assessment

There are two levels of hazard assessment:

Formal hazard assessment is a complex undertaking and an important step in developing a Health and Safety Management System specific to your company.

Field-level hazard assessment is performed on the spot when unusual hazards may be introduced into the employee's work.

Formal Hazard Assessment

Formal hazard assessments will serve as the foundation of an employer’s health and safety system, and involve the identification of all jobs and tasks performed by employees, the assessment of each task for hazards, and the prioritization of the hazards based on the level of risk. This process will be followed by the implementation of controls for the identified hazards (see Element 3).

Key employees charged with conducting hazard assessments should receive training in how best to complete the process. Training is available from Certifying Partners and other training agencies.

Steps for Conducting a Formal Hazard Assessment

1. Create an inventory of jobs and tasks

The first step of formal hazard assessment is to create a list of all jobs within the scope of the employer’s business, and record the number of workers that perform each job (see Job Inventory Worksheet). Once this is done, list all the tasks performed as part of each job identified (see Appendix for a sample Hazard Identification and Assessment Worksheet).

2. Identify and assess hazards

Each inventoried task is assessed to determine the potential hazards and associated risk. For each task listed, identify any health or safety hazards to which workers may be exposed. Be sure to involve workers who perform the tasks in this process to ensure nothing is overlooked.

After the hazards are identified, calculate their risk ratings by asking the following three questions:

What are the consequences if the hazards are not controlled?

What is the probability of an incident occurring?

What is the frequency of exposure to the hazard?

(For an example of how to quantify a risk rating using consequences, probability and frequency, refer to the Risk Ranking Table at the bottom of the Hazard Identification and Assessment Worksheet in the Appendix.)

4. Prioritize hazards

Using the information from the assessment, determine the risk rating for each task, and rank the tasks in order of priority, based on the level of risk (see the Appendix for a sample Critical Task Worksheet). This will allow the hazard assessment team to address the tasks with the highest risk hazards first.



5. Determine controls

Address identified hazards by assigning methods of control to eliminate or reduce the hazard. The most effective controls can be determined based on legal requirements, manufacturers’ specifications, company rules, industry best practices, and worker input. Record the control methods, the date of implementation, and the names of those who participated in the assessment and control process. Be sure to follow up with periodic reviews to ensure the control measures are working and effective. (See Element 3 on Hazard Control for more information.)

6. Review hazard assessments

Formal hazard assessments should be dated and subject to a regular review schedule to prevent the development of conditions that may put workers at risk. These reviews should take place annually (at a minimum), or any time a new process is introduced, a change is made to the operation, or a significant addition or alteration is made to a work site.

Field-Level Hazard Assessment

A field-level hazard assessment is performed at the job site when hazards not considered in the formal hazard assessment could be introduced. All workers at the job site must participate in a field-level assessment with their supervisor. The field-level hazard assessment is conducted before work begins, and repeated at reasonable intervals if a new work process is introduced, a process or operation changes, or before the construction of significant additions or alterations. The steps involved are as follows:

1 . Before starting work on a new job site, or under unfamiliar conditions, worker(s) must stop to identify any hazards that may have been introduced into their usual work.

2. Any existing hazards are identified and assessed on the spot, and controls are put in place immediately to eliminate or reduce the risk to a reasonable level before work begins.

In many cases, a field-level hazard assessment will identify hazards that have already been identified and assessed through the formal hazard assessment process, since the formal process should have identified all hazards that workers would normally encounter in the course of their work. If this happens, the worker would be directed to a pre- determined method of hazard control. If a new and unusual hazard specific to the job or job site is identified, a new control method may have to be identified and implemented before work can begin.

When a new control method is required for a new or unusual hazard, that hazard should be reported to the supervisor. The company can then prioritize the hazard and determine if further preventative action needs to be conducted by the company (such as revision of training, procedures, and awareness bulletins).

Reporting Hazards

To support the hazard assessment process, employers must implement a system that requires workers to report any unsafe practices and conditions they identify at the work site. This can be done through the use of a safety suggestion box, or by designating a worker as the contact for safety concerns. Suggestions or ideas received should be addressed in a timely manner.







Does the employer have a list of all jobs carried out at the work site?


Has the employer compiled a list of all tasks associated with each job?


Are health and safety hazards identified for the jobs and tasks?


Have the health and safety hazards been evaluated according to risk?


Are identified health and safety hazards prioritized according to risk?


Are workers involved in health and safety hazard identification and assessment?


Are key employees trained in the process of hazard identification and assessment?


Are the health and safety hazard assessments reviewed when changes to the operation are implemented?



3. Hazard Control

Once the hazard assessments are completed, the next step in the development of a Health and Safety Management System is the implementation of control measures to eliminate or reduce the risk of harm to workers. This part of an OHS system is also covered under Occupational Health and Safety legislation, which requires employers to take all reasonable steps to eliminate or control identified hazards in order to make the workplace safer. Employers should check the legislation to determine if controls have been specifically prescribed for the jobs they do.

Hierarchy of Controls

When beginning to implement control methods in the workplace, consider the hierarchy of controls to determine which control methods will be the most effective in reducing the risk of injury or illness. There are three categories of hazard control, and control methods are often used in combination to ensure the best level of worker protection possible. Whatever control methods are used, employers must have a system that allows for regular checks to determine whether or not the controls are working as intended.

Engineering is the best method of hazard control, and involves engineering out or substitution of the hazard. Where possible, engineering controls should always be the employer’s first option. Examples include:

Building a catwalk with handrails and replacing a portable ladder with a permanent access ladder for maintenance procedures

Building a sound-dampening enclosure around a piece of loud equipment to reduce workers' noise exposure

Replacing a harmful chemical with a less hazardous product

Administrative controls are the second most effective method of hazard control, and involve the implementation of practices, procedures and rules to reduce the amount of exposure a worker has to the danger. Examples include:

Developing and enforcing the use of practices and procedures for conducting a task safely

Providing emergency response training to all workers and conducting regular drills

Job rotation

Posting signs to warn of high noise areas

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is the method of last resort, and should always be used in combination with other control methods. Personal protective equipment is often the easiest control to implement, but is usually the least effective. In some cases, employers will supply workers with the required PPE, and in others, they may require workers to provide it themselves. In all cases, formal training in the care, use, and maintenance of all PPE should be provided by the employer. Examples of Personal Protective Equipment include:

Safety glasses to protect the eyes from flying debris

Hard hats to protect the head from falling objects

Respiratory protective equipment to protect the lungs from harmful dusts and chemical vapours



Developing Controls

Steps for developing/implementing hazard controls

1. Develop hazard controls

Using the results of the hazard assessment, start by selecting those tasks that present the greatest risk to employees, and determine possible controls for the identified hazards. The hazard assessment team should lead this process, but would be well advised to solicit input from the workers doing these jobs. Their knowledge of the job tasks can be of great value to the process, and their involvement will help gain worker buy-in. Other sources of information about possible controls could include codes and standards, health and safety legislation, and existing company policies.

2. Implementation of controls

The next step is to implement the control methods selected. This will involve the installation of engineering controls, the development of policies, procedures, codes of practice, rules and preventative maintenance schedules, and the introduction of PPE. Implementation will also involve training workers and contractors in the use of controls, and the introduction of policies to enforce their use.

3. Review and revise

Hazard assessments and controls should be reviewed soon after controls are implemented to monitor for effectiveness. Subsequent and regular reviews should also take place at least annually to verify that original expectations were correct, and that established controls continue to be adequate. Employers should also re-evaluate hazard assessments and controls whenever there are changes to the operation or to the work being done.

Enforcement of Controls

As noted in step 2 above, the employer is responsible for ensuring workers are informed of job- related hazards, trained in the methods used to control these hazards, and made accountable to use the controls in place. To enforce control methods, develop a constructive enforcement policy, and communicate the consequences to employees and the steps that will be taken if noncompliance occurs. Management and supervisors should always keep in mind that positive reinforcement also goes a long way in encouraging safe and healthy behaviours at the work site.

Communication and enforcement of the Enforcement Policy provides an opportunity for management to show their commitment to the Health and Safety Management System and the wellbeing of their employees.



Preventative Maintenance

To proactively avoid hazards caused by the breakdown of equipment, tools and machinery, employers should also develop a Preventative Maintenance Policy and equipment maintenance schedule. Equipment breakdowns can cause injuries, property damage, and costly production delays, all of which can be reduced by the implementation of a preventative maintenance system. The standards for the maintenance program should be based on the manufacturer’s recommendations, industry standards, past incidents, and data from company hazard assessments.

A good preventative maintenance program will also include a requirement for workers to inspect their tools and equipment regularly. If a tool or piece of equipment is found to be defective, it should be taken out of service (either be discarded, or tagged as defective and sent for repair). And employer policy should also include a requirement to purchase tools and equipment in accordance with CSA, provincial, and industrial standards.




Have hazard controls been identified and implemented:



Personal Protective Equipment?


Are workers involved in establishing the control of health and safety hazards?


Are employees using controls developed for identified health and safety hazards?


Is there a process for maintaining equipment and preventing the use of defective equipment?


Does management enforce the use of engineering controls?


Does management enforce the use of safe work procedures, rules, and work practices?


Is the required PPE available?


Where PPE is used as a method of control, are employees trained in the use, care, and maintenance of the personal protective equipment?