Safety in the workplace is everyone’s responsibility. In order to ensure a safe workplace for all, it is important for each member to understand their individual role and responsibility to:
- Identify actual and potential hazards in the workplace, when they occur.
- Utilize low-level resolution to resolve safety concerns.
- Be aware of Employer policies and procedures concerning workplace safety.
- Have knowledge of individual rights and obligations under the Saskatchewan Employment Act, Occupational Health and Safety Regulations and the Collective Agreement.
- Seek clarity on obligations under the Act and Regulations when required.
- Seek out appropriate education/training to avoid potential or actual risk to self or co-workers.
- Access rights, protections and processes within the Collective Agreement to address harmful or potentially harmful situations. (eg: Nursing Advisory of grievance processes).
Key to creating a safe workplace is that everyone in the workplace - both employees and employers - is responsible for his or her own safety and for the safety of co-workers. Those responsibilities are outlined in Part III of the Saskatchewan Employment Act (SEA).
As an Employee, your responsibilities include the following:
- Work in compliance with the OH&S Acts and Regulations.
- Use personal protective equipment and clothing as directed by the Employer.
- Report workplace hazards and dangers to the supervisor or Employer.
- Work in a safe manner as required by the Employer and use the prescribed safety equipment.
- Tell the supervisor or Employer about any missing or defective equipment or protective device that may be dangerous.
- Take reasonable care to protect his or her health and safety and the health and safety of other workers who may be affected by his or her acts or omissions.
- Refrain from causing or participating in the harassment of another worker.
- Cooperate with any other person exercising a duty imposed by the Act and Regulations.
The First Step: Low-Level Resolution
When a workplace safety concern or hazard is identified, the member’s/employee’s first step in addressing the issue is to engage in low-level resolution with their immediate supervisor/manager.
An Employee or a group of Employees who have a health or safety concern shall endeavour to resolve that concern by first referring the concern to the immediate supervisor or officer responsible for safety (Article 61.03 SUN/SAHO Collective Agreement).
Low-level resolution is an effective approach used to address common issues/concerns or solve problems in real-time, at the point of the incident, opposed to flagging the area of concern to be dealt with at a later time or refer to senior management. This proactive and collaborative approach to problem solving supports open and transparent communication with the shared goal of timely and appropriate resolution.
While utilizing low level resolution to address member concerns is optimal, this does not remove the member’s rights to engage in a formal process through the Collective Agreement or legislation, nor does it prohibit them from contacting the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety.
Fix it, Mark it, Report it
Everyone in the workplace is responsible for the safety of others and themselves – regardless of their designation, job duties, bargaining unit, or level of authority.
This responsibility is outlined within OH&S legislation where all employees must take reasonable care to protect his or her health and safety and the health and safety of other workers who may be affected by his or her acts or omissions. This means that when there is a health and safety concern in the workplace, everyone has an obligation to do something about it and if they don’t, you may be held responsible for the outcome.
If a worker identifies a safety issue it only takes a moment to quickly wipe up a spill or put a wet floor sign out or put a sign on broken equipment to warn others of the hazards.
In the event of an incident or accident, it is everyone’s obligation to ensure the event was reported to the immediate supervisor and the proper paperwork was completed.
We have all heard the old nursing adage – if it wasn’t documented, it didn’t happen. If it didn’t happen, there is nothing to fix.
Rights & Protection Under Collective Agreement
The Collective Agreement provides members with rights and protections in addition to those outlined within the Act and Regulations. The Collective Agreement covers subjects including, but not limited to:
- Joint commitment to safety;
- Participation on Joint OH&S Committees;
- Time lost;
- Influenza vaccine;
- Violence in the workplace;
- Critical stress management; and,
- Protective equipment and clothing.
Summary Offence Tickets (SOTs)
A Summary Offence Ticket (SOT) is a ticket issued by designated Occupational Health Officers for certain occupational health and safety violations. SOTs are similar to speeding tickets, with fines ranging from $250 - $1,000 depending on the offence. They are issued on the spot or sent by mail depending on the situation and circumstances.
There are 12 ticketable offences for non-compliance with legislation; ticketable offences in healthcare include fall protection and personal protective equipment.
If an employee has been trained to prevent workplace hazards and an OH&S Officer sees them improperly performing a ticketable offence, the employee will be ticketed. If the employee can prove they have not been trained or properly trained to avoid the ticket.
The Employer is obligated to ensure all employees are properly trained for the areas in which they work and the type of work they perform. This includes training in health and safety – in order for employees to work safely and in compliance with legislation and employer policies.
Employees have the right to seek out the appropriate education/training for their area of practice to avoid potential or actual risk to self or co-workers. OH&S training specific to healthcare is offered by the Saskatchewan Association for Safe Workplaces in Health (SASWH) and includes courses such as:
- Transferring Lifting Repositioning (TLR);
- Safe Moving and Repositioning Techniques (SMART®) program;
- Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS 2015);
- Professional Assault Response Training (PART);
- Workplace Assessment Violence Education (WAVE); and,
- Mental Health First Aid.