Do Your Part To Ensure Your Workers Get Home Safe
We are all aware of the major role that health and safety plays in the day to day activities of all those involved in the landscaping industry, or any industry, for that matter. Executing and maintaining a comprehensive health and safety program is not only the law, but also communicates to your employees, that you care about their well-being.
A simple and easy way to communicate to your employees, any health and safety- related information or updates, is through the use of your company’s health and safety board. This information board should be located in a spot where it can be easily seen by anyone walking by. It should also draw attention to its target audience: your employees!
In this industry, during this particular time of year, the activities and projects being undertaken by landscaping companies can become extremely busy and hectic, very quickly. Therefore, it is a good idea to make sure your company’s health and safety board is up-to-date now, as it might not seem like a top priority, and end up being neglected, as the season becomes busier, and full of activity.
What needs to be posted on the Health and Safety Board?
In each province or state, there are several posting requirements for the workplace, set out in regards to health and safety and other related materials. Many of these requirements can be posted in one, easy to find place: directly on your health and safety board.
For example, where we work, here in Ontario, you can find full posting requirements relating to health and safety, by reviewing WSIB’s “Workwell Core Health and Safety Audit.”
An example of some of the posting requirements for Ontario includes:
- A copy of the Occupational Health and Safety Act
- Copy of your company’s updated Health and Safety Policy (reviewed and signed by the employer on an annual basis)
- Form 82 – “In Case of Injury—-1234” poster (available through WSIB)
- Emergency services and contact numbers
- First aid regulations
- WHMIS regulation
Other workplace posting requirements for Ontario can be found on the province’s Ministry of Labour website:
To find out the posting requirements for the province or state in which your business operates, you can start by contacting your local Ministry or Department of Labour.
In most provinces or states, each company by law, is required to have some sort of health and safety representation. In Ontario for example, depending on the size of your company, the requirement is to have either an elected health and safety representative, or a joint health and safety committee. In this regard, the health and safety board can be used to communicate:
- the name or names of your health and safety representative or committee members, along with their contact information
- schedules for meetings and workplace inspections
- results of jobsite inspections
- minutes of any health and safety meetings
- any follow-up action taken by management in response to any recommendations made by employees, regarding hazards identified during workplace inspections.
These postings keep employees in the loop as to what is going on around the workplace, and which hazards they need to be aware of. This also helps everyone to establish who their health and safety representatives are, so they know who to go to if they have a health and safety related concern.
We also find the health and safety board to be a useful resource for communicating new or updated company policies, or procedures for certain tasks. Since employees pass by the board on a daily basis (or should be, if the board in located in a prime location), this is a good chance for the employer to have employees review and signoff on any necessary documentation. With our busy schedules, instead of sitting down and having a full company meeting every time a new policy/procedure is introduced in the workplace, this is a much more convenient way to pass along important information, without having to take any major time out of everyone’s workday.
Be fun with your board!
As mentioned before, you want your health and safety board to draw attention to your employees. Make sure your health and safety board stands out so that it catch’s an employee’s eye when they walk by. Some ideas would be to: decorate and create borders, split the board into sections with different headings for different health and safety topics, post a weekly joke, etc. Anything that would encourage an employee to stop and review what is posted on the board.
Here are some resources to help you make your board a little more interesting:
SafetyJokes has a bunch of pictures, jokes, and stories of unsafe workplace practices. Safety doesn’t have to be serious. Funny pictures of unsafe work practices are a great way of communicating how “stupid” it is to ignore safety.
The government of New Zealand created a guide for some creative Health and Safety ideas. You can download that guide here.
… or, you can get serious. Sites like Ontario Ministry of Labor frequently both Health and Safety penalties as they are settled in the courts. Posting stories of serious fines – ranging from $5,000 to $500,000 - to both companys and field supervisors will keep safety on the forefront of everyone’s mind. When your employees realize that they can be fined, personally, for safety offenses, you’ll find many of your health and safety issues solve themselves. To read about the latest cases, click here.
You can be as plain or as creative as you want! If there are postings on the board that must be reviewed and signed off on, on a regular basis, you must make sure this standard is communicated at the beginning of the year, to all employees!
Danielle O’Neill is the Human Resources and Safety co-ordinator at TBG Landscape, (www.tbglandscape.com). Danielle is responsible for continuously improving TBG’s Health and Safety program and increasing Health and Safety awareness among TBG staff.