Developing a health & safety program is a time and labour-intensive process. It can seem like an overwhelming project considering the legislation is continuously changing while we are living and operating our business during a pandemic.
But, in order to put your H&S program together and ensure your practice is compliant, you must know the law, understand what is required for your Health and Safety Committee/Representative, and build all of the supporting documents and forms for your Occupational Health and Safety Program.
Over the past 18 months, we have seen many practices attempt to do this on their own, investing 80+ hours, only to learn that they are missing many important pieces, making their practice non-compliant. Here are the top 3 IMPORTANT items we see missing from their health & safety program.
Working Alone Policy
There are many workplace hazards and risks including biological, physical, ergonomic, physiological, and chemical hazards in a dental practice. It is your responsibility to educate and train your team members on how to be able to keep themselves safe in the workplace. Do they know how to keep themselves safe when they are working alone?
A person is considered alone at work when they’re on their own or when they cannot be seen or heard by another employee. They may not be all alone in the office as they may go for a period of time where they do not have direct contact with coworkers. For example, there is someone at the reception desk covering the phone while everyone is in the backroom having their lunch.
They may be exposed to a number of risks working “alone” and your team needs to understand what those are and be trained on how to stay safe.
According to the Occupational Health and Safety Code, Part 28, section 394(1), your working alone policy should outline: possible risks, how and when hazard assessments will be conducted to investigate and eliminate those risks, procedures for incident reporting, check-in procedures, and your communication systems.
Workplace Violence Protocol
Workplace violence is a serious issue that affects all practices. It must discuss the safety and security of every employee and employer where someone is violent (i.e. another employee, patient or any random intruder). Harassment and violence can take place at any work site and may range from disrespectful remarks to physical aggression. These are serious issues. They create an unhealthy and unsafe work environment and can make it impossible to perform one’s job.
According to the Occupational Health and Safety Code, Part 27, section 390.4(1) “An employer must develop and implement a harassment prevention plan that includes a harassment prevention policy, harassment prevention procedures, violence prevention policy and violence prevention procedures.
They must be in writing and readily accessible to your team. It must include the procedure for:
• workers to report workplace harassment
• employers when documenting, investigating and implementing controls
• informing the parties involved of the results of the investigation and corrective action to be taken
• workers to obtain immediate assistance
• documenting, investigating, and implementing measures to eliminate or remove these hazards
These plans must be kept current and reviewed annually, when an incident of harassment or violence occurs, or when an HSC or HS representative recommends a review.
General Hazard Assessments & Controls
We see many practices that may have a manual but have never completed a hazard assessment. According to Occupational Health and Safety Code, Part 2, section 7(2), the law is clear that hazard assessments must be done, and employers must produce a written record of the process.
Your OHS manual must outline the policies and procedures for these general hazard assessments but must also be conducted and reviewed to prevent unsafe or unhealthy conditions from developing and will help determine if existing controls are working as intended.
This must be completed by the HSC or HS representative annually or whenever changes are introduced to the workplace (i.e., new equipment, new procedure, new tasks introduced, or work conditions changed)
Once the hazard has been identified, it must be eliminated, or if the elimination is not possible, it must be controlled.
This is small part of hazard assessments and much more is involved from the HSC or HS representative and the employer.
Missing one or all of these will make your practice non-compliant or worse, if someone injures themselves and your business is found non-compliant, OHS officers have the authority to issue compliance orders, stop use orders, stop work orders and other tickets. They can also recommend administrative penalties.
At Stream Dental HR, we believe this risk isn’t worth taking in your practice! We are here to help and get you compliant with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and your dental regulatory bodies. Our Health & Safety experts are here to help ensure your workplace is OHS compliant and as safe as possible for your team.
Contact us for more information.