Keeping your people safe at work sounds obvious, but it’s not always easy to do.
As a small business owner, you’re constantly wearing different hats. You might be acting as a manager, an HR rep, or a sales consultant depending on the situation and who you’re talking to. Factor in labour shortages and the rising costs of doing business, and it’s easy to see how one of the most important things to running a successful business, the health and wellbeing of your team, can be taken for granted.
No matter what industry you’re in or how many people are on your team, you can take steps today to reduce the risk of workplace injuries and illnesses by improving your health and safety practices. The result will be fewer absences, less turnover, lower recruiting and onboarding costs, and a more engaged team.
Join a health and safety program
Joining a workplace health and safety program can be a key part of your journey to reduce the risk of workplace injuries and illnesses.
If you’re an Ontario business covered by WSIB insurance, for example, you can register for the Health and Safety Excellence program. You’ll work with a WSIB-approved health and safety professional, known as a program provider, to develop an action plan to address your unique health and safety needs, from controlling a hazard to emergency preparation and everything in between.
A provider can help your business reduce the risk of incidents, improve ways to help people get back on the job after a work-related injury or illness, and help you earn rebates on your WSIB premiums – and those rebates are doubled in 2023 for businesses with 1-99 full-time employees.
Create a positive workplace health and safety culture
Regardless of whether or not you join a health and safety program, you need to create a positive health and safety culture.
Creating the right culture starts with involving your team members in meaningful discussions and decisions about health and safety. It’s critical to have open conversations with your employees and empower your team members to bring their ideas to the table about improvements that can be made in your business and then act on their feedback.
When you work collaboratively with your team members, you send a message that you value their wellbeing and that health and safety is everyone’s responsibility.
Leverage the data available to you
You can feel confident that you’re focusing your efforts on the right areas for improvement when you collect, monitor and act on the health and safety information available to you.
Internal tools like inspection reports, audit assessments, meeting minutes and employee surveys can provide valuable insights into what’s working and what’s not in your business.
Through external resources, such as Glassdoor or Google reviews, you can learn more about what people are saying about your and other businesses when it comes to health and safety.
The WSIB’s Safety Check also provides information on the safety record of businesses across Ontario and allows you to compare health and safety results of similar businesses in your industry. And if you’re covered by WSIB insurance, you can use our online services to find data about your business’s health and safety trends, history, claims and costs.
Knowing your health and safety track record and using the data at your fingertips can help you identify the gaps in your business and invest in the areas that will make the biggest difference.
Build your peer network
Leveraging your network and talking with other businesses like yours to share experiences, tips and templates can be another great way to help you develop your health and safety practices.
You can reach out to organizations like your local Business Improvement Area, Chamber of Commerce and Small Business Enterprise Centre, which can help you connect with your peers.
You don’t have to re-invent the wheel when it comes to health and safety. So don’t be shy—pick up the phone and start the conversation.
Get involved with health and safety associations
Health and safety associations or organizations are another valuable resource any business can tap into.
Associations provide you with health and safety advice and best practices, information about innovative and cost-effective health and safety solutions, as well as sector-specific products, services, training and networking opportunities.
If you’re registered with the WSIB, you are automatically a member of the provincial health and safety association that represents your industry. Every province has health and safety associations that provide support to workplaces.
With so many great resources available to you, it just makes sense to get involved.
So now that you know about all these resources available to you, start today and take it one step at a time to make your workplace healthier and safer.
Rodney C. Cook, MIR, CRSP
Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), Vice President, Workplace Health and Safety Services
For more than 20 years, Rod Cook has been a leader in business transformation in both the private and public sectors. In his current role as Vice President of Workplace Health and Safety Services (WHSS) at the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), he oversees all aspects of workplace health and safety programs. In 2019, Rod led the branding and launch of an innovative, streamlined digital health and safety program in partnership with leaders across Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety System. The new Health and Safety Excellence program would allow businesses to customize their health and safety journey and adopt a health and safety culture at their own pace. Rod was also appointed to the Prevention Council to provide advice to the Minister and Chief Prevention Officer and represents Ontario on the tripartite Board of Council of Governors at the Council of the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the National Institute of Disability Management and Research. Rod continues to drive innovation and growth within the program through strong leadership, stakeholder engagement, evidence-based administration, and a passion to make Ontario the safest place to work. Rod has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Concordia University and a Master’s degree in Industrial Relations from University of Toronto. Rod earned the Canadian Registered Safety Professional (CRSP) ® designation in 2020.