Workplace health and safety: protect yourself and your workers

“In November 1994, 19 year old Sean Kells was at work pouring toluene from a large container into smaller containers when a static electricity spark ignited the fumes of the highly flammable liquid.  Tragically, Sean experienced third degree burns to 95 per cent of his body.  He died 24 hours later.  Sean had not received any health and safety training, had not been told that he was handling a highly flammable substance, and did not know the container he was using should have been grounded.  Sean’s father, Paul, created the Safe Communities Foundation (SCF) in 1996.  The WSIB is a proud partner with the SCF.” (Workplace Safety & Insurance Board training manual 5: Steps to Managing Health & Safety). 

An accident can be prevented but never reversed.  As a small business owner, you need to know what options are available so that you can protect yourself and your workers.  As the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB) reminds us, ensuring workplace safety is an asset, not a liability.  WSIB administers Ontario’s no-fault workplace insurance for employers and their workers. WSIB is funded by employer premiums. WSIB:

  • provides disability benefits
  • monitors the quality of health care and
  • assists in early, safe return to work for workers injured on the job or who contract an occupational disease.

Paula Andrade, Community Program Co-ordinator for the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board visited the Small Business Centre recently and shared information about WSIB’s  Safe Community Incentive Program (SCIP).

According to Paula, SCIP helps business owners understand the importance of workplace health and safety, how to prevent/reduce work-related injuries/illnesses and how to contribute to a national culture on health and safety

  • Part one is an introduction to health and safety designed to create awareness of risks in the workplace and an understanding of a small business’ legal requirements under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act and Occupational Health and Safety Act. Firms that meet the program requirements – participation in classroom training and the creation of a health and safety action plan – are eligible to receive a 5% rebate on their WSIB premiums.
  • You may only join Part One of the SCIP program if your business has been registered with the WSIB for 12 months or less.  Check the schedule for upcoming sessions.
  • Part two further enhances health and safety awareness and helps you develop an effective and successful health and safety program that will help you better manage your business risks. Firms can receive up to an additional 5% rebate in Part Two of SCIP after they participate in four in-class sessions and submit both a health and safety policy and a self-evaluation checklist. Firms are not eligible to receive both rebates in the same calendar year. Check the schedule for upcoming sessions.

To be eligible to join SCIP, your company must:

  • be registered as a Schedule 1 employer and in good standing with the WSIB
  • pay $90,000 or less in WSIB premiums per year
  • not be part of the Safety Groups Program and have not participated in SCIP in the past.

The program is exclusive for owners and senior managers, because research and experience have shown that commitment and leadership from owners and senior management is essential to developing effective health and safety and return to work programs

According to WSIB, industries such as construction, services, manufacturing, transportation and agriculture account for 90% of all small business incidents.  Types of accidents are overexertion and repetitive strain, contact with objects or equipment and falls.  About 18,000 small businesses register with WSIB every year and 38,000 injuries per year are reported by small business.  WSIB’s vision is to see the elimination of all workplace fatalities, injuries, and illnesses.

As a small business owner, you need to become knowledgeable and well informed on what is available.  The Halton Small Business Centre is here to help educate and support small business by creating awareness of  programs available and providing services such as one-on-one consultations.  Check out our online resources, such as our Guide to Starting a Business or contact or visit us today!

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