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Health and Safety Commitment Policy

Your Health and Safety Commitment

What is a Health and Safety Policy?

All employers are legally required to have a written statement of the goals of their health and safety program and the responsibilities of the employer, supervisors, and workers.

This statement is called a health and safety policy, but what does that mean?

It's not just the words...

A simple Internet search will reveal several examples of written health and safety policies. Many are designed for you to download and “fill in the blanks” with the applicable names of those in your organization.

Would that make it your policy?

Not quite. Policies are to organizations what intentions are to people; they are more than the words we use to express them. Intentions and policies are rooted in ideas and actions that are important to us. As individuals and as organizations, they guide everything we do.

...its about making a clear commitment

The effort put into creating a written health and safety policy is a starting point. It is an “I do” at the beginning of an ongoing commitment to act in ways that preserve and advance things that matter to your organization. For employers, that includes providing adequate resources, time and training. For workers it includes actively promoting their own safety and that of their colleagues and the public.

In other words, it's a two-way commitment. That's why employers and workers have to contribute in the creation of the written policy.

Developing Your Written Health and Safety Policy

A good health and safety policy reflects and expresses the intentions that are its foundation.

Employers should take the time to sit down and consult with management and staff to identify their shared values and goals and write down their intentions for achieving them.

Here are some steps to help get it done.

Step 1: Assemble a Shared Vision

Ask staff some questions about what matters to them about workplace health and safety. For example:

  • Apart from the legal reasons, why should health and safety matter in our store?
  • What is your expectation of us as an employer?
  • Is it acceptable that staff or visitors to our store leave with injuries? Why or why not?
  • What are you willing to do to promote your own safety, as well as that of colleagues and customers?
  • How should management think of health and safety? Why?
  • What should visitors to our store be able to expect?

Consider circulating questions such as these in advance and giving staff time to think about them so that they come up with considered responses.

When you meet together, have staff describe an ideal for a healthy and safe workplace from the perspective of customers, themselves, and the organization.

For example:

  • "Customers feel safe when they enter our store"
  • "Customers are free from risk of injury or trauma"
  • "Staff never have to worry about their safety"
  • "Staff leave the store each day as healthy as when they entered"
  • "Visitors to our store always feel safe"

Step 2: Craft a Shared Statement of Commitment

Using the results from Step 1 craft a statement, unique to your store, about why health and safety matters and what you will do to ensure it.

For example:

  • "We and the management are committed to ensuring the health, safety and welfare of all our colleagues and visitors. We each promise to promote health and safety at all times."

Step 3: Explain How Everyone Will Keep Their Commitment

Setting out clear goals and assigning responsibilities are key to honouring the commitment to a safe workplace. For example:

As an employer, we will:

  • Strive to allocate adequate resources to meet the objectives of this policy.
  • Comply with all applicable health and safety requirements and strive to exceed industry standards.
  • Work steadfastly with our staff to eliminate or control hazards.
  • Incorporate health and safety into the business planning cycle and set goals and objectives to support continual improvement of our management systems.
  • Provide our staff with information, instruction and training to ensure they are able work safely and participate in the management of health and safety.
  • Always invite our staff to participate in decisions on matters that may affect their health and safety; and in reviewing our health and safety performance and our shared health and safety commitment.

As staff, we will:

  • Carry out our duties in a manner that preserves our own health and safety, along with that of our colleagues, customers and visitors.
  • Comply with all applicable health and safety requirements and strive to exceed industry standards.
  • Work with our employer in the interests of workplace health and safety.
  • Take seriously and apply any health and safety training provided.
  • Immediately report all matters that may affect workplace health and safety.
  • Undertake only those tasks we are authorized or properly trained to do.

Staff should have an opportunity to discuss and provide feedback to ensure the policy captures their intentions.

Step 4: Communicate the Commitment

The final step is to post the policy so that it is a visible reminder to everyone in the store. Your commitment is an active, living expression of the shared health and safety goals of both management and staff.

Make sure everyone understands the policy, keeps it in mind and puts it into action every day. Collectively review and discuss it at least once a year to keep it up to date.

Identifying Hazards

Identifying Hazards

A hazard is anything with the potential to cause harm. Sometimes hazards are easy to spot and have simple solutions — an icy stairway or a frayed plug on a kettle, for example. Other hazards are less obvious, and addressing them takes more creative thinking. For example, what could happen to staff or customers if there’s a robbery, an earthquake, or a fire?

Regardless of their complexity, the first step is to identify the hazards in your shop. It's best to take a systematic approach. For example:

  1. Inspect the worksite
  2. Use a hazard identification checklist when you do your inspection
  3. Look for new hazards when new equipment, chemicals or people are brought in
  4. Ask workers about the hazards they face
  5. Look at your first aid records. If there are patterns, talk to the crew and get to the root causes

For more detailed information on doing inspections and identifying hazards, please go the module on Hazard Identification.

Once hazards are identified, the next step is to size up the risk they pose. If hazard is the potential to cause harm, risk is the likelihood that a hazard will in fact cause harm. Identifying the level of risk will enable you to prioritize the actions you'll take in order to minimize the level of risk they pose for staff and the public.

Please click here for more information and helpful tools for sizing up the risks and controlling them.

Training Modules

Safety Modules

Let’s Get Started

We’ve prepared a series of brief articles to help your safety management system achieve positive results.  The list is not exhaustive, but we hope we’ve captured all of the safety related issues you may encounter as you strive to create and maintain a safe and healthy environment in and around your location.   

Many of the topics come with helpful forms and checklists.  We hope to soon begin transforming these topics into user-friendly online tools to help you keep your safety management system up to date. 

If we’ve missed anything, please contact us to let us know!  We will be delighted to hear from you and we welcome your feedback.

Retail Safety front page

The safety of employees and customers is a top priority for the Western Convenience Stores Association (WCSA). It is no accident that our member companies have come to enjoy an exemplary safety record within the broader retail sector: it is an achievement resulting from our commitment to ongoing improvement and continued vigilance.

Our members regularly create new programs, strategies and technologies to ensure safety in response to emerging concerns for employees and customers alike. It has become standard practice to reassess injury prevention programs to keep stride with operational changes as they occur. Overall safety standards have improved through the sharing of information within the association: we hope to raise the bar further by sharing with the broader convenience store community.

In consultation with our members and fellow Canadian Convenience Stores Association chapters, WCSA has begun to assemble a growing collection of accepted best practices. We are committed to sharing this information with all convenience stores -- WCSA members and non-members alike.

Good Safety Management Tips!
Helpful Safety Modules
Crime Safety Prevention Training Den Course

OHS Committees

Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Committees

How formal a company’s program needs to be generally depends on the size of the company. Across Canada OHS committees are known by slightly varying names: joint health and safety committee; industrial health and safety committee; joint work site health and safety committee; occupational health committee; workplace safety and health committee; or, health and safety committee. In British Columbia, a formal program that includes the involvement of an OHS committee is required where there is:

  • A workforce of 20 or more workers, and at least one workplace at which there is a moderate or high risk of injury
  • A workforce of 50 or more workers

A business with a smaller workforce requires a less formal OHS program. For example, companies with fewer than 20 workers can have a Safety Representative instead of a health and safety committee.

In Alberta, health and safety committees are only mandatory for those work sites required by Ministerial Order to have a committee. For all other work sites in Alberta, the establishment of a committee is voluntary.

For information regarding committee requirements for all Canadian jurisdictions visit the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada website at

http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/eng/labour/labour_law/whs/oshcom.shtml

Role of the OHS Committee

OHS committees are made up of worker and employer representatives working together to identify and resolve health and safety issues. There must be an atmosphere of cooperation in order for a committee to effectively fulfill its roles, which include:

  • Identifying and recommending solutions to problems, and promoting safety
  • Recommending actions that will improve health and safety management
  • Promoting compliance with OHS Regulations
  • Dealing with employee suggestions concerning health and safety
  • Monitoring and following-up hazard reports and recommend actions
  • Participating in incident investigations if ever things go wrong and an employee is put at serious risk or injured.

Useful information:

The WorkSafeBC workbook Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee

The WorkSafeBC Small Business Health & Safety Log Book

Continually Improving Safety

Continually Working to Improve Safety Management

To manage safety, employers have to make safety a priority and demonstrate their commitment.

Any business has to look ahead, learn from the past and assess its performance if it wants to move forward and improve. Managing safety is the exactly the same: it’s an ongoing process of learning and improving. Just as with any other performance review, records and statistics can and should be used to improve safety management.

The table below outlines some ways you might use data from incidents for statistical analysis:

Consider the Type
  • Near misses
  • First aid only
  • Health care only
  • Time-loss injury
Look at the Data:
  • Number of incidents
  • Frequency of incidents
  • Number of injuries
  • Types of injuries
  • Severity of injuries
  • Number of days lost
Analyze Your Data
  • Compare monthly and annual results
  • Compare type of work or activity
  • Compare shifts
  • Compare worker experience and training

Management is required to meet regularly to review health and safety activities and incident trends. These meetings provide an opportunity to:

  • Talk about feedback, suggestions, and concerns from workers
  • Respond to recommendations arising from inspections and safety committees
  • Review policies and procedures for relevance
  • Work to improve the existing health and safety program
  • Review statistics

Management has to communicate decisions and activities on health and safety matters to supervisors and workers.

Learning from the Unexpected

Learning from the Unexpected

Taking the time to learn from past experiences is one of the most important steps you can take toward preventing work-related injury. It is essential for effective safety management.

Whenever there is an incident (such as an accident or close call), try to learn from it so that it doesn’t happen again. While memories are still fresh, find the root causes of the problem, and then address them.

Find out what happened......and also how and why it happened – get the big picture:

  • Take control of the scene
  • Check the equipment/materials involved
  • Protect the scene to preserve evidence – rescue work is the only exception
  • Take pictures of the scene
  • Interview witnesses and keep notes. Get written statements from those involved
  • Find out the root cause(s)
  • Write down corrections you need to make
  • Follow-up promptly and address the causes

Employers are required by law to formally investigate incidents that:

  • Resulted in serious injury to a worker or the death of a worker
  • Resulted in injury to a worker requiring medical treatment, or
  • Had the potential to cause serious injury

For detailed information and resources for investigating and learning from incidents please go to the module on Incident Investigations.

Keeping Records

Keeping Records

Good records of accidents and close calls (often called 'near misses') are an important part of safety management. They help to identify both safety risks and solutions. They are also required by law and can protect employers from orders and fines if ever a worker is injured on the job.

Make sure you keep records showing that you:

  • Make your safety policy clear to workers
  • Make specific people responsible for safety, and support them in their work
  • Involve management in inspections and investigations
  • Respond promptly to safety concerns
  • Talk about safety at management meetings
  • Require subcontractors to work safely
  • Look for injury trends at your work sites
  • Do your best to control hazards
  • Properly maintain your equipment
  • Review your safety program at least yearly
  • Properly train and supervise workers
  • Hold workers accountable for safety

Examples of records to keep:

  • Worker orientations and safety training
  • Hazard inspection reports or completed checklists along with evidence of follow-up
  • Incident investigations and follow-up
  • Logs of disciplinary action to enforce safety
  • Notes on safety discussions and talks, and evidence of follow-up to address safety issues
  • Equipment log books and maintenance records
  • First aid records
  • Exposures to harmful substances
  • Emergency response drills
  • Safety related expenses
  • Accident and injury statistics, showing any trends – negative or positive
  • Records showing use of progressive discipline to enforce safety rules and written safe work procedures
  • Joint OHS committee meeting reports showing steps taken to address health and safety issues
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