What you need to know

To keep your workplace a safe place to work, there are things that you should know. Addressing things like fire safety, doing your best to prevent injury and that you are aware of an employee’s right to refuse unsafe work will get you there.

The Right to Refuse

Workers have the right to refuse work that they deem to be unsafe. If workers think performing a work process or using machinery/equipment will put themselves or someone else at risk, they have a duty to refuse. As an employer, you may not penalize or deduct pay from a worker for doing so. You should think of this as an opportunity. An employee has alerted you of a safety hazard in your workplace and has allowed you to correct it.

The 3 steps that follow refusal

  1. Once the worker has alerted you of the hazard, either you or the supervisor must investigate the issue.

If you agree that another worker could complete the task safely, you must give notice in writing to the JOHSC or health & safety rep.

The written notice should include:  

  • An explanation of the refusal.
  • Why the task would not create a hazard.
  • An acknowledgement of the worker’s right to refuse the work.
  • The employer and supervisor must consult with the JOHSC or health and safety rep. Alternatively, a worker chosen by the worker who reported the hazard may be consulted.  
  • If the issue cannot be resolved, it is time to contact WorkSafe BC. Both the employer and supervisor must contact them. A prevention officer will work to resolve the matter. Call 604 276 3100, or toll-free 1 888 621 7233.

Fire safety programs

It’s essential that your business has a thorough fire safety program to protect your people in case the worst happens.

Fire safety in B.C. is subject to the Fire Services Act which sets things like fire safety and prevention requirements, the inspection of fire hazards and more. Regulations and codes such as The Fire Safety Code, B.C. Fire Code Regulation, Fire Services Fee Regulation and the Local Assistant Fee Regulation operate under the Fire Services Act.

Your fire safety program should ensure that you:

  • Do not block fire exits
  • Have an exit strategy in case of a fire
  • Have a fire extinguisher that is easily accessible and in good working order  
  • Conduct regular fire drills
  • Have a working fire alarm that is regularly tested
  • Post emergency phone numbers in an easily viewable and accessible location
  • Have an on-site fire safety box on-site  

Injury Prevention

It’s always unfortunate when someone is injured in the workplace. Fortunately, there are things that you can do as an employer to minimize injury in your workplace.

Such as:

  • Conducting regular workplace inspections and risk assessments
  • Providing employees with proper training, ensuring they are aware of how to use equipment/tools, and that employees receive effective supervision.
  • Establishing a process for reporting hazards and resolving them in the workplace.
  • Ensuring that you have first aid equipment on-site.
  • Making sure that a copy of your OHS-compliant health and safety program is easily accessible and visible in the workplace.

WorkSafe BC has a series of prevention initiatives it calls High-Risk Strategies and Industry Initiatives. They address employers and industries that have a high risk of injury. This is determined based on industries that have a high contribution to the serious injury rate and overall injury rate. These initiatives feature inspection activity, employer consultations, outreach activities, and educational programs and materials.

WorkSafe BC’s High-Risk Strategies focus on the following industries:

  • Construction
  • Healthcare and Social Services
  • Forestry
  • Manufacturing

WorkSafe BC’s industry initiatives focus on specific industries and provides injury prevention measures that make sense for that industry. Industry Initiatives also focus on issues and topics that are relevant to injury prevention.

They include:   

  • Agriculture,
  • Bullying, harassment, and prohibited action
  • Confined spaces
  • Crane and mobile equipment
  • Motion picture and television
  • Oil and gas
  • Psychological health and safety
  • Serious injury prevention
  • Small businesses
  • And more

Still need help?

If you still need help with anything relating to safety in the workplace, do not hesitate to reach out. A Health and Safety Help expert will be happy to answer any questions you have. Call today at 1-888-917-5912.