Employers play an essential role in preventing workplace injuries and promoting a safe and healthy workplace. As an employer in the dentistry industry, you will need to become aware of the ins and outs of your Provincial Occupational Health and Safety Legislation. There are some basics that every dental employer must know to be compliant.
Employers have a legal obligation to properly inform, instruct and supervise their employees and do everything reasonably practicable to protect them. Here is some essential and critical information for employers.
Health & Safety Training No matter the industry, all employers must ensure all of their employees receive the appropriate health and safety training to maintain their personal health and safety on the job. Health and safety training regulations may include but are not limited to:
· Duties and rights of workers
· Duties of employers and supervisors
· Role of health and safety representatives
· Role of joint occupational health and safety committees (if required)
· The government support for occupational health and safety (including Ministry of Labour and WorkSafe/WCB/WSIB)
· Common workplace hazards
· Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) with GHS
· Potential risks for occupational illness or injury
OHS mandates all dental offices to have an elected Health and Safety Representative (H&S Rep) if there are between 5 to 19 workers regularly employed.
The appointed H&S Rep must receive training for the role. Training is mandatory to enable the H&S Rep to effectively perform the functions and duties of a H&S Rep. As an employer, you are expected to provide training and cover all costs associated with any required training.
If your dental office has 20 or more workers, a joint occupational health and safety committee (sometimes referred to as “JHSC" or “JOSH”) is mandatory. Each province has its own requirements for establishing a required occupational health and safety committee. When building your workplace occupational health and safety committee, the members of the team must be appropriately selected and elected into these roles. This means that non-managerial committee members are chosen by non-managerial workers.
Working Alone Requirements
An employee is classified as working alone if they are working by themselves and assistance in an emergency would not be readily available to the worker. This situation requires additional safety measures put in place by the employer.
The employer must conduct a hazard assessment to identify existing or potential health and safety risks associated with working alone. OHS Legislation requires that the employer implements measures to eliminate or control the risk of workers working alone. This process starts with ensuring that your employees are trained and educated to perform their job safely while working alone. Employers are also required to establish effective communication methods and check-in procedures that are adequate to protect the employee under the circumstances of working alone. If possible, employers or management should rearrange employee schedules to eliminate the risk of working alone.
Workplace Harassment and Violence Hazards
Employers are required to help prevent workplace harassment and violence and address incidents when they do occur. Workplace harassment and violence may come in all forms, including domestic and sexual violence.
Every employer must develop and implement workplace harassment and violence prevention plans. The plan must include prevention policies and procedures that are in writing and readily available to employees at any time. As a minimum requirement the employer must review the program to ensure that the policy and procedures are current and applicable once every three years, however it is common for offices to do this annually..
Employers must coach employees on: identifying workplace harassment and violence hazards, recognizing the signs of danger, understanding what to do in the event of identified workplace violence and harassment, and how to report the threat accurately and completely. Lastly, employers must offer support to employees affected by an incident of harassment or violence in the workplace, either by consulting with a health professional of the worker's choice or through an employee assistance program if available.
A robust and well-rehearsed emergency response plan can help minimize the stress related to making critical decisions on the spot. It provides an element of control under potentially chaotic circumstances.
Occupational health and safety legislation requires all workplaces to have an emergency response plan (ERP). Employers must develop an emergency response plan by anticipating all the emergencies that could reasonably occur in and around the worksite, and then must determine how to respond if these emergencies did occur and what would be needed to provide that response. Your ERP must also outline the procedure in selecting and documenting the best responses to an emergency.
There are five main categories to consider for emergency planning:
· Site/Location Based Emergencies
· Biological Emergencies
· Chemical or Medical Emergencies
· Workplace Violence Emergencies
· Extreme Weather/Natural Disaster Emergencies
Your emergency response plan must be kept up to date. To be effective, it has to reflect your current environment and operations. Building renovations, expanding services, or even changes to your local surroundings could trigger the need to adjust your plan.
Exposure Response Plan
The prevention of occupational disease needs to be taken seriously by all employers in all industries. A formal response plan such as a Code of Practice is required when a designated substance is present in the workplace classified as a hazard.
Like the emergency response plan, employers must have a Code of Practice in writing stating the policies,procedures and mandatory PPE requirements when handling a hazardous chemical. As the employer, you must ensure that employees to whom the code of practice applies to receive appropriate education, instruction, or training on the content of the Code of Practice.
The OHS Code of Practice was put in place for employers to educate and inform employees on measures to be taken to: prevent unnecessary exposures, standardize first aid procedures, decontamination procedures, and proper waste handling, etc. Ultimately it is in place to mitigate and minimize the risks of occupational diseases from occurring in the workplace.
We Can Help!
Employers have a broad responsibility for protecting employees' health and safety with considerable risks on their shoulders. There are a substantial amount of policies, procedures, and training that must be be implemented within the workplace. Employers must stay compliant with all of the above stated and more within the OHS legislation, or they may be inadvertently putting their practice at risk. We, at Stream Dental HR, are experts when it comes to understanding employer's obligations under all provincial OHS legislation. Our team can enhance your workplace safety measures and establish compliance with advanced training programs, which will leave you with more time to focus on your business operations and development with increased peace of mind.