Health and Safety ReportVolume 22, Issue 06

On Topic

Small Business Health and Safety: Commit with a Policyprint this article

Did you know small businesses in Canada have the same legal duties as any other employer to protect their workers against injuries and illnesses? So, whether you have two or 2,000 workers, you must take all reasonable precautions under the circumstances to protect the health and safety of your workers.  

Depending on the laws of your jurisdiction, and the number of workers you employ, you may also need to formalize your organization’s commitment to workplace health and safety with a policy. But what do you do if you don’t have the resources or expertise to do this? Creating a health and safety policy can seem like a big challenge, but it doesn’t have to be.  

From penning a policy to putting it into action, learn how to meet this health and safety responsibility so you can protect your workers. Now that’s a business win for any organization, big or small.  

Make a policy statement 

What exactly is a health and safety policy, and why is it important? Put simply, it’s a statement of rules and values that define, promote, and guide an effective workplace health and safety program.  

Often, you can source sample policies through industry associations, professional networks, and health and safety websites. While these serve as helpful resources, be sure to tailor your statement to match the unique needs of your own business.  

Your policy statement can be brief, but it should commit to following the health and safety laws for your jurisdiction addressing workplace hazards, and to reducing any risk of harm to your workers. You may also need to develop a violence and harassment prevention policy. That’s why it’s always a good idea to check your jurisdiction’s occupational health and safety legislation to ensure you’re meeting your duties as an employer.   

Your health and safety policy should also outline the health and safety responsibilities of the employer, managers, supervisors, and workers who make up the business. It’s the role of employers and management to maintain safe work procedures and a healthy work environment. But workers have a role to play, too. They need to follow safe work practices and report any hazards that could cause harm to themselves or others 

Lastly, employers and managers should review, sign, and update the policy as needed. Workplaces that commit to continual health and safety improvement reap the rewards. Not only do they see lower rates of injuries, illnesses, and absenteeism, but they also enjoy higher productivity and worker morale. And that makes good business sense for everyone.  

Invite worker engagement  

Workplace health and safety is a shared responsibility among employers, management and workers. That’s why it’s important to engage your workers in the policy-making process. In fact, inviting worker feedback can be vital to getting their support for your policy and any related programs.  

Take the time to talk to your workers about how work gets done. Encourage them to share their experiences and ask for their suggestions on how work can be made safer. This is also a good time to discuss establishing a workplace health and safety committee or representative, if you don’t already have one and if the legislation requires you to have one in place.  

When sharing your policy with your workers, communicate it in clear, plain language rather than legal or technical language. This will make sure everyone in your workforce can understand your policy and follow it. It will also encourage their participation in your health and safety program – another bonus for your small business!    

Put your policy into action  

You’ve signed off on your policy, and shared it with your staff through email, during team meetings, on notice boards, and in your new hire orientation. Now what? It’s time to put your policy into action with the introduction of a health and safety program 

Customize the program to match the needs of your workplace, and incorporate any legal obligations, safe work practices, training, emergency procedures, and other workplace specific requirements such as personal protective equipment. 

Start by walking through your workplace, talking with supervisors and workers, and reviewing incident and injury reports to identify and assess the hazards that can cause harm to your workers. Consider all aspects of well-being, including psychological and physical hazards that could harm your workers.     

Next, introduce control measures to address each hazard in your workplace. You can use the risk reduction model known as the hierarchy of controls to help you prioritize safer work practices and measures in your workplace, and to help guide your program. 

Finally, monitor your health and safety policy and program, including the control measures in place, to make sure they continue to be effective. An annual review is recommended and, in some cases, required, although they should be evaluated anytime changes are made that could affect health and safety.  

Your health and safety policy is a pledge to protect your workers, which you carry out through a program you regularly review and improve upon. The bottom line? A safe and healthy work environment means your workforce can thrive and grow, just like your small business. 

CCOHS Resources 


Guide to Preventing Harassment and Violence in Your Workplace print this article

All workers have the right to a safe workplace that is free of harassment and violence. But we know that harassment and violence can affect any worker, in any industry. That’s why prevention efforts are critical in helping to protect workers.  

Preventing Harassment and Violence in the Workplace 

This updated pocket guide provides practical guidance and information to help workplaces develop and implement a harassment and violence prevention program. It helps you identify your workplace-specific risk factors, assess hazards, and develop procedures for reporting and investigating incidents, including providing victim support. It also offers strategies for preventing harassment and violence, responding to workplace incidents, and managing emergency situations.  

This guide can also be used as a handout for participants in employee training sessions.  

Order your PDF or print copy 


How Plain Language Improves Workplace Health and Safetyprint this article

CCOHS releases new podcasts each month to help you stay current and informed on workplace health, safety, and well-being in Canada. 

Featured Podcast: How Plain Language Improves Workplace Health and Safety 

When employers commit to using plain language, they make it easier for workers to do their jobs. They also help to support a more inclusive workplace. In this episode, we talk with plain language expert Jocelyn Pletz about how clear and simple communication can improve health and safety. 

Listen to the podcast now. 

Encore Podcast: Supporting Workers After a Traumatic Brain Injury   

Brain injuries can be among the most serious of workplace injuries. To get a better understanding of the impacts on employees, employers, and how to support staff as they return to work, listen to this podcast with researchers from the University of Toronto’s Acquired Brain Injury and Society Team. 

Listen to the podcast now. 

See the complete list of podcast topics or, better yet, subscribe to the series on iTunes or Spotify and don't miss a single episode.

Tips and Tools

New Toolkit to Help Prevent Heat Stress at Workprint this article

A new Heat Stress Toolkit from the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) helps employers to understand heat conditions in their workplaces, assess the level of risk, and take action to protect workers.  

Along with reference guides, posters, videos, and infographics, the toolkit features a heat stress calculator that evaluates temperature and humidex values, plus other workplace factors. Based on the level of risk, it provides a response plan to help keep workers healthy and safe in the heat.  

Every year, thousands of workers in Canada are at risk of heat stress, which occurs when the body is unable to get rid of excess heat. This can cause a worker’s heart rate and core body temperature to increase and can lead to heat-related illnesses such as heat rash, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and even death.  

In fact, an estimated 200 workers in Canada die annually from workplace heat stress. That’s why it’s important to raise awareness, to learn the warning signs, and to know how to prevent heat-related illnesses at work.  

For more resources on heat stress and other occupational illnesses, visit the Prevent Occupational Disease website.   

Partner News

Get More Support to Improve Team Psychological Health and Safety print this article

Are you a workplace leader? Taking action to improve the psychological health and safety of your team is easier than ever thanks to the enhanced Psychologically Safe Team Assessment tool. This free online resource now provides even more support to help leaders improve team cohesion, inclusion and resilience. 

How it works 

  • Send your team members a short assessment to get their feedback on leadership, team interactions and inclusion.  
  • Get a report identifying team strengths and areas for improvement, plus resources to help you take action. 

What’s new 

  • More resources and strategies, along with suggested wording, are included in the report to help you start a conversation and take action on the results. 
  • Assess more than one team at the same time if you lead multiple teams. 
  • Get step-by-step help using the tool with the new how-to guide. 

The Psychologically Safe Team Assessment was developed by Workplace Strategies for Mental Health, compliments of Canada Life, with oversight by Dr. Brooke Linden and researchers from Queen's University, along with technical development and support from CCOHS. 

Learn more about the tool, create an account, and get started 


The Chad Bradley Scholarship Award is Openprint this article

If you are a woman enrolled in a post-secondary occupational health and safety program, you may be eligible to win a $3,000 scholarship from CCOHS. 

The Chad Bradley Scholarship is available to women enrolled in either a full-time or part-time health and safety related program leading to an occupational health and safety certificate, diploma, or degree at an accredited college or university in Canada. 

Not sure if your course or program is eligible? Qualifying programs include occupational or industrial health and safety, industrial hygiene, safety management or other related safety degree program. 

The entry deadline is August 31, 2024, at 11:59 p.m. EDT. Learn more about the scholarship and how to apply. 

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