It’s absolutely true that your manager, supervisor, and employer all have a legal responsibility to prioritize your health and safety and make sure you’re meeting local legislative requirements related to your job. But did you know that you, the employee, have your own set of responsibilities? It’s not just up to everyone else to keep you safe; it’s your job, too. Read on to find out the top eight things your boss needs you to know about health and safety.
1 – You Need to Work In Compliance With OH&S Acts and Regulations
You may think you’re working safely, but are you actually in compliance? Familiarize yourself with your local laws and regulations surrounding the work you do. If inspectors come knocking, it’s not just your boss that’s going to get a ticket. You’ll be on the hook, too, if they can prove you’ve willfully ignored the safety guidelines laid out for you.
2 –Wear the PPE You’ve Been Provided
Every job in industry requires the use of some kind of personal protective equipment. It’s up to your employer to provide it and train you on how to use it properly, but it’s up to you to actually wear it every day. If you decide one day that your harness and lanyard is a pain in the butt and you don’t want to wear it anymore, guess who will end up with the fine when you get caught? If your employer can produce the training records that prove they taught you how to use it, you’re in big trouble.
3 – Always Report Workplace Hazards and Dangers
If you see something, say something. Don’t assume the next guy will tell your boss that there’s a downed wire or a huge puddle of water on the floor. Some of the worst accidents happen because of poor housekeeping in the workplace; you’d be surprised how often something that seems insignificant ends up being the source of a major injury. The same goes for dangerous work practices, too. Forget about being a rat or tattletale – you’ve got a duty to speak up if you see coworkers acting unsafely. You might just end up saving their life.
4 – Work Safely
Don’t rush. Don’t cut corners. Don’t assume no one will notice if you don’t do it properly. The likelihood of having an accident at work is significantly increased when you work recklessly. And I get it – you’ve got deadlines to meet, numbers to hit, and quotas to be met – but how productive can you be if you hurt yourself at work? How productive will anyone be? I’ll tell you right now: not too productive at all if the entire operation is shut down for a workplace accident investigation.
5 – Tell Your Boss About Missing or Defective Equipment
If you notice something’s wrong with any of your safety equipment (big or small!), tell your boss. Don’t wait for the next person to do it, and don’t count on it being okay for the time being. You know when you’ll find out? When something goes wrong – and that’s a chance you don’t want to take. Value the safety of yourself and your coworkers enough to speak up when something isn’t up to standards.
6 – You Have the Right to Refuse Unsafe Work
No job or amount of money is worth your life. What good is a paycheque if you aren’t around to enjoy everything is provides? If someone is asking you to perform work or a task that feels unsafe to yourself or a coworker, you have the right to refuse it. If you need guidance in how to initiate the process, check out the Government of Canada’s FAQ on refusing unsafe work.
7 – You Have a Right to Participate in Your Workplace’s Safety Programs
Make your voice heard. As an employee, you have the right to participate in the workplace health and safety activities, through your health and safety committee, or as a worker health and safety representative. The safest workplaces are ones that encourage a culture of safety and accountability. If you want to see changes, don’t stand idly by. Get involved, and help to make positive changes that improve the health and safety of everyone you work with.
8 – You Have the Right to Know How Dangerous Your Workplace Is
Every employee has the right to know not only the actual hazards they face in the workplace, but the potential dangers as well. That information must be presented to you easily and clearly. If your employer refuses to discuss what risks you might face while you’re at work, there’s a major problem. Don’t be complacent – ignorance of the law is never an acceptable defense. You’ve got to assume some of the responsibility for your own personal safety. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and ask for clarification on the answers if you need it. Remember – a good employer has nothing to hide.