BC Health and Safety Policy
BC Employee Handbook Topic Help BC Health and Safety Policy

BC Health and Safety Policy

Topic 114-BC     Importance: Critical

Purpose

Communicates a high-level health and safety policy statement and clarifies the responsibilities of the company, managers and staff.  

Note:  This Health & Safety Policy can't be the only written communication you have in place regarding safety for workers.  Of equal importance is the creation of a safety program that outlines the training requirements for employees, specific safety hazards and procedures, as well as various other safety topics required by law.  We recommend that you provide a hyperlink to your safety program documents directly from this policy in your Handbook/Manual using the form field placeholders we’ve included.

ConnectsUs HR™ provides a high level policy statement because safety programs vary significantly from one company and one industry to another.  

Benefits

  • Promotes a “safety culture”, letting employees know that you care about their health, safety and wellness
  • Outlines everyone’s role, accountability and responsibility for safety in the workplace
  • Demonstrates safety adherence and intention to be compliant with WorkSafeBC Legislation
  • A good or improved safety record decreases your WorkSafeBC premiums.

Risks

  • You’re not compliant
  • An employee is injured or dies
  • The owner or a manager is held responsible and liable in the event that someone is seriously injured at work
  • If you don’t have a written policy, and a prospective employee who has been given an offer of employment is signing off on your Handbook/Manual, you won’t be getting their signature confirming that they understand their individual safety responsibilities.

HR Expertise

To create the policy:

No expertise is required since this policy is a general statement of intent and responsibilities.

To create a safety plan and programs:

Requires you to understand your company’s work environment and the hazards that exist within it. Depending on the complexity of those hazards, specialized expertise in safety may or may not be required to customize it. 

For example, if your workforce is made up of office workers, you won’t require much expertise and you’ll likely be able to create a safety program by referring to the online resources listed below. 

But if your workplace has a high likelihood of accidents, illness or injuries - such as in the construction industry - safety will be a highly complex topic that will require significant expertise and time to develop.  You may want to engage an experienced consultant that specializes in your industry.

Time/Effort

  • The time and effort to create your Health & Safety policy is minimal.
  • The time and effort to create your safety programs is dependent on the safety complexity of your workplace and industry. 
  • Legal review of this policy is recommended but optional. 
  • Legal review or review by a subject matter expert of your safety programs is highly recommended if your workplace or industry’s safety requirements are complex.

Dependencies

This policy can be independent.  Other topics it may reference:

  • Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination
  • Prevention of Workplace Violence

Key Decisions

  • Based on the number of employees in your workplace, determine  whether you will need a Joint Health and Safety Committee or Health and Safety Representative.
  • Who will be responsible for managing your policy and program for Health and Safety?  HR or a specialized Safety Team?
  • How will training of staff and managers be administered?
  • Who will review the policy each year?

Key Approvals

If you don’t have a Health and Safety Policy in place, this topic should be approved by:

  • Highest level executive in your company
  • Highest level safety/compliance/HR position in your company
  • Highest level executive that safety/compliance/HR reports to.

Additional Resources

The following resources are meant for you, the customizer of the employee handbook: 

WorkSafeBC: https://www.worksafebc.com/en

Additional Tips

When it comes to protecting your company from liability, it’s critical to know if a business or contractor you plan to hire is registered with WorkSafeBC and in good standing.

If you hire a registered subcontractor who is not making required payments to WorkSafeBC, you could be liable for insurance premiums relating to the work or service they provided to you.

You can check their safety record online and get a clearance letter here: https://www.worksafebc.com/en/insurance/why-clearance-letter

Getting Started

Before you start customizing this topic, we recommend you:

  1. Understand the safety requirements for your industry:
  • Carefully review the WorkSafeBC website
  • Direct any questions you may have to clarify specific requirements for your industry or workforce to WorkSafeBC.
  1. Meet with your senior management team:
  • Educate them on the consequences of non-adherence to safety laws
  • Get their buy in and ensure they support your safety initiative
  • Discuss the safety culture you want to create.
  1. Customize the Health and Safety policy
  2. Create your safety programs
  • Meet first aid requirements
  • Manage risk in the workplace
  • Develop a health and safety program
  • Perform regular workplace inspections
  • Ensure workers are trained and oriented
  • Establish and maintain a joint health and safety committee
  • Investigate and report incidents