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The (Mini) Rosetta Stone of Health and Safety

Have you ever been a part of a conversation where you have no idea what anyone was talking about? Not wanting to look as clueless as you might be feeling you smile, nod, and pretend you 100% know what’s going on. Fake it till you make it, right? Now, have you ever done that with health and safety? It’s okay if you have! We understand that health and safety can be confusing, especially when everyone around you is using terms and acronyms that you have never heard of. But you don’t have to feel lost. Together, let’s crack open that Rosetta Stone of Health and Safety!

Audit: Is an assessment of a safety and health program’s documentation and/or a physical location to ensure regulation compliance by a trained safety professional.

Certification: If you are an Ontario business, and depending on the size of your company, you may have a Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC). At least 2 committee members, 1 worker and 1 management rep (maybe more depending on the size of your company) are required to be certified in health and safety. The certification training is composed of 2 parts, Part 1: Basic and Part 2: Hazard Specific.

Committee: Depending on the size of your company, you may have to have a health and safety committee. Each province in Canada calls their committees something a little different.

  • Alberta: Joint Work Site Health and Safety Committee (JWSHSC)

  • British Columbia, New Brunswick, Ontario: they are called Joint Health and Safety Committees (JHSC)

  • Manitoba: Workplace Health and Safety Committee (WHSC)

  • Newfoundland: Occupational Health and Safety Committee (OHSC)

  • Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island: Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee (JOHSC)

  • Quebec: Health and Safety Committee (HSC) or comité de santé et sécurité (CSS)

  • Saskatchewan: Occupational Health Committee (OHC)

Inspection: When you hear this in a health and safety context, this is usually referring to the committee’s workplace inspection! Make sure you are familiar with how often your inspections should be happening in your workplace.

Inspector: A provincial inspector may visit your company at any time and may be there for several reasons; the most common being to check that your company is following occupational health and safety legislation. They may also visit in response to a complaint, critical injury, or work refusal.

Investigation: Again, context on this is everything – but in a health and safety context, we’re talking about the investigation of accidents/incidents, critical injuries, and fatalities. An investigation is to determine root cause and prevent it from happening again. This is different from an inspection.

Job Safety Analysis: Is a process that breaks down a job into its components and identifies hazards and risks of each component.

OHS: Is an acronym for Occupational Health and Safety.

R.A.C.E.: This stands for Recognize, Assess, Control, and Evaluate. This acronym is used to deal with workplace hazards.

Safe Operating Practice (SOP): This can also be called a safe work practice (SWP). This is a document containing information on potential hazards you may encounter while operating a piece of equipment. It also outlines the training you should receive prior to use, what type of personal protective equipment (PPE) is required, and other useful information related to operation. You should always read the provided SOP prior to using the equipment.

SDS (previously MSDS): This acronym stands for Safety Data Sheets. In the past, these were called Material Safety Data Sheets. An SDS contains information about the hazards for specific products that you might use on the job and guidelines on how to protect yourself from those hazards. These sheets are produced by the supplier or manufacturer of the product.

Workers’ Compensation: Payments required by law to be made to an employee who is injured or disabled in connection with work.

Workplace Hazardous Material Information System (WHMIS): This system provides information to workers regarding the safe use of hazardous materials through product labels, safety data sheets (SDS), and other education programs. All employees should be trained on WHMIS and a review should be conducted annually.

“Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB)”, “Board” “Compensation Board”, or “Work Safe”: Each province calls their compensation board something a little different. At the end of the day, all claims for workplace injury or illness are sent to your applicable board. If approved, a worker can claim benefits through workplace insurance.


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