Ontario businesses can register for health and safety program by Feb. 18
When it comes to health and safety, many Ontario businesses are uncertain of where to start. That’s where the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) Health and Safety Excellence program comes in.
The provincial Health and Safety Excellence program helps businesses develop their own workplace health and safety programs, network, and learn—all with the potential for earning a WSIB premium rebate.
The pandemic has brought workplace health and safety to the forefront of public awareness, and the Excellence program guides and rewards businesses for the activities they undertake to help keep workers and the public safe.
As an approved provider, Workplace Safety North (WSN) has registration available until Feb. 18 for its 2022 Excellence program and encourages Ontario organizations to apply.
Ryan Mackett, Communications Manager with the Lakehead Region Conservation Authority in Thunder Bay, talked about the benefits of the program and the following interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Can you tell us a bit about your organization?
Conservation authorities play a significant role in flood forecasting, water level monitoring and the administration of development regulations. We also own, operate, and maintain recreational conservation areas where people can go hiking and trail running, and we supply education programming. We’re a very interesting and unique organization and there’s 36 of us in the province of Ontario, which is the only province with conservation authorities.
Have you recognized a reduction in workplace injuries or an improvement in workplace safety culture?
We have 11 full-time permanent staff, and there haven’t been any workplace injuries here for quite a while. I think that the standards we created as part of the program last year clarified a few things and has affected our workplace culture in a positive way.
What are the benefits of the program for you?
The networking aspect of the program is extremely beneficial. This has slowed down a little due to the pandemic, but it’s always really interesting to hear different perspectives from other companies of different sizes to help frame and contextualize health and safety issues across the board. Also, networking in terms of resource-sharing and support has been helpful.
The standard samples and organized approach that WSN and the program itself have, lends itself to efficient policy development. There’s a lot of resources in place that make it easier than starting from scratch with a blank Word document.
There are support and resources in place that help organizations that may be worried about adding more work; there are mechanisms in place that alleviate that. I think the resources provided are excellent.
The Workplace Safety North staff are a fantastic resource. Whenever I email or call, I get very quick responses, and any issues I’ve had have been fixed as quickly as possible.
Of course, the other benefit or reward is that if you do your five topics and you are successful in implementing them, the rebate is a nice perk.
I can honestly say that the rebate is part of why we joined, but first and foremost, our reason is that we needed help in developing and implementing a proper, sound health safety program.
How did the Excellence program affect your workplace?
The program positively influenced our workplace. Our health and safety culture has become top of mind for everybody. I’m regularly working on health and safety items, and they’re always being discussed or referenced.
We’re fairly collaborative in how we develop or decide which policies we need, so it’s really brought health and safety to the forefront. We’ve gone almost a complete 180 as an organization. Before, safety was hardly talked about, now, it’s what we lead with.
Everybody needs to buy in and take part in our health safety program. That’s a mandatory condition of employment here now.
Would you recommend other firms joining the excellence program, and if so, why?
One hundred percent I’d recommend it, especially if your organization needs that extra little bit of assistance or direction in how to properly develop a health and safety program. That’s where this program really shines. I think some larger corporations have dedicated health and safety staff and that’s all they do, and I think there’d still be a benefit for organizations like that. The direction and structure provided by the Excellence program is extremely beneficial.