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Due diligence is the level of judgement, care, prudence, determination, and activity that a person would reasonably be expected to do under particular circumstances.
Applied to occupational health and safety, due diligence means that employers shall take all reasonable precautions, under the particular circumstances, to prevent injuries or incidents in the workplace. This duty also applies to situations that are not addressed elsewhere in the occupational health and safety legislation. Reasonable precautions are also referred to as reasonable care. It refers to the care, caution, or action a reasonable person is expected to take under similar circumstances.
Another term used is employers must do what is "reasonably practicable". Reasonably practicable has been described by the Labour Program (Canada) as taking precautions that are not only possible, but that are also suitable or rational, given the particular situation. Determining what should be done is usually done on a case by case basis.
To exercise due diligence, an employer must implement a plan to identify possible workplace hazards and carry out the appropriate corrective action to prevent incidents or injuries arising from these hazards.
"Due diligence" is important as a legal defense for a person charged under occupational health and safety legislation. If charged, a defendant may be found not guilty if he or she can prove that due diligence was exercised. In other words, the defendant must be able to prove that all precautions, reasonable under the circumstances, were taken to protect the health and safety of workers.
Due diligence is demonstrated by your actions before an event occurs, not after.
The conditions for establishing due diligence include several criteria:
All of the elements of a "due diligence program" must be in effect before any incident or injury occurs. If employers have questions about due diligence, they should seek legal advice for their jurisdiction to ensure that all appropriate due diligence requirements are in place.
Remember, due diligence is demonstrated by your actions before an event occurs, not after.
More information on how to establish these programs is available through OSH Answers, including:
Written documentation is essential. Records, reports and documentation for the following activities can include:
When reviewing your due diligence program, it may help to ask yourself the following questions:
|Due Diligence Checklist|
|Do you know and understand your safety and health responsibilities?|
|Do you have definite procedures in place to identify and control hazards?|
|Have you integrated safety into all aspects of your work?|
|Do you set objectives for safety and health just as you do for quality, production, and sales?|
|Have you committed appropriate resources to safety and health?|
|Have you implemented appropriate control measures for identified hazards?|
|Have you explained safety and health responsibilities to all employees and made sure that they understand it?|
|Have employees been trained to work safely and use proper protective equipment?|
|Is there a hazard reporting procedure in place that encourages employees to report all unsafe conditions and unsafe practices to their supervisors?|
|Are managers, supervisors, and workers held accountable for safety and health just as they are held accountable for quality?|
|Is safety a factor when acquiring new equipment or changing a process?|
|Are contractors, volunteers and others in the workplace held to the same safety standards?|
|Do you keep records of your program activities and improvements?|
|Do you address concerns and recommendations made by workers, the health and safety committee (or representative), and others?|
|Have items from reports such as inspections or incident reports been reviewed and corrective actions taken? Have these steps been documented?|
|Do you keep records of the education and training each employee has received?|
|Do you check to confirm that all policies and procedures are being followed regularly?|
|Do your records show that you take disciplinary action when an employee violates safety procedures?|
|Do you review your OSH program at least once a year and make improvements as needed?|