In most of our workplaces, we have that one person who we call our “Safety Champion”. This is the person who takes care of organizing, tracking and documenting most of the workplace safety activities. If you have this person in your workplace, that’s great, but don’t get caught in the trap of having ONLY one person know what’s going on with the safety program.
We’ve seen case after case where an employee leaves the company and the safety program leaves with them. In some situations, the documentation walks right out the door with them. In others, the documentation stays, but no one else knows where to find it, doesn’t understand what to do with it, or no one gets reassigned those tasks when the person left. Sometimes, it is just a matter of that person being off for the day, or gone on vacation, but no one knows where anything is in their absence or how to handle it. This often results in fines, orders and charges when the Provincial Officer/Inspector walks into your workplace and cannot verify documentation, or the people they are speaking with says, “we don’t have that”. In reality they do, but they were not aware, or we see the old response of, “the person responsible for that isn’t in, and they are the only one with access to those documents.”
So, what can we learn from others losses? Well the first thing is that the Safety Champion should only be one cog in the wheel. They may facilitate and organize the safety program, but everyone in the workplace should be involved. Supervisors, managers, Safety Committees/Reps, and workers should all have assigned duties for safety, and different safety aspects should be included in all their meetings. Secondly, communication is key. Everyone, even workers, need to understand what is involved in their safety program and where to find the information (i.e. Safety Board, Safety Binders, 24-7 and other online programs). The Safety Champion should be communicating regularly to senior management the status of the program and reporting
non-compliance and issues with outstanding or incomplete documentation so that management can take corrective actions. Finally, plan and document. Having a good safety practice is awesome, but you need the documentation for your due diligence. Have safety activity reminders in your calendars, plan activities in advance, and make time for them. Put safety on your agenda. It should literally be ingrained in all your workplace practices so that it is never tossed aside, overlooked, or forgotten altogether.
Having a Safety Champion is wonderful, but safety is still everyone’s responsibility. Safety is not just a binder that sits on the shelf, it is a living breathing program that requires continuous work. If you use a safety consultant, such as Dunk & Associates, to assist you with your safety content, you still need to make sure that you are implementing your program, following your consultants’ instructions and notifying them when the needs of your company changes. Having Health & Safety consultants assist you with legal compliance doesn’t take away your company’s responsibility for implementing the safety program. Make sure you communicate with Dunk & Associates, and any other safety consultants, with what your company needs. If there are issues not addressed in your policies, you need to let us know.