What is an Internal Responsibility System (IRS)?

A key component of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) for employers is setting up an internal infrastructure to ensure compliance with the Act’s rules and regulations in the workplace.

Imperative to this is the establishment of an Internal Responsibility System (IRS). In order for a workplace to remain safe and healthy, everyone involved in the workplace has to play a role in keeping it that way. Workers have a statutory duty to report hazards and OHSA contraventions that they see to an employer or supervisor. The employer or supervisor must then address those issues and ensure the worker is properly trained on handling any hazards that correlate to their role.

An employer’s IRS must also set out the tasks involved in implementing safety policies and programs in the workplace. This includes the monitoring and supervision of the work being performed.

Understanding Workers Rights

An Internal Responsibility System ensures everyone in a workplace—workers, supervisors, employers, health and safety committees and representatives, and external parties—understand their role and responsibilities in handling, reporting, and working with workplace hazards.

Part of this includes ensuring workers understand their three rights under the OHSA, which include:

  1. The right to participate in the process of identifying and resolving health and safety concerns, typically either directly or through a joint health and safety committee or a health and safety representative
  2. The right to know about any hazards to which they may be exposed, including:
    • Information about potential hazards in the work they are doing;
    • Training to do the work in a healthy and safe way; and
    • Competent supervision to stay healthy and safe.
  3. The right to refuse work that they believe is dangerous

Employers are prohibited from penalizing workers for exercising their rights under the OHSA.

Do your workers and supervisors understand their role in the Internal Responsibility System?

Ask Health and Safety about any OHSA, IRS, or Ministry of Labour questions you have today.

Our experts at Peninsula are here to help small business owners ensure their workplaces are as healthy and safe as possible. We’re all in this together. Don’t hesitate to reach out by giving us a call today at 1-888-216-2550.