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OPE Safety in the Canadian Workplace

May 14, 2019

Workplace Safety SignsSafety is paramount on any job site. It’s easy to get distracted by the jobs at hand and forget about all the necessary safety precautions. But that can be a very costly mistake—in many ways. Lapses in safety may result in serious injuries, loss of labor as employees suffer injuries, loss of finances through fines, and overall loss of production as safety concerns hamper the workflow.

Here are some guidelines Canadian employers should follow to ensure a safe and healthy work environment when using chain saws and other outdoor power equipment. We also compiled a list of safety gear employers are legally obligated to provide.

Employer Responsibilities

As employers and leaders, you have significant influence over the culture of the company. Offering ample training and promoting a positive attitude toward health and safety goes a long way to prevent accidents and injuries.

Establish an occupational health and safety program:

OHS Guidelines require formal health and safety programs for any company that has a workforce of 20 or more workers and at least one work site with moderate or high risk of injury or any company with more than 50 workers. The programs should be structured to identify and minimize hazards in the workplace and help prevent sickness and injury.

The program should equip and train workers on proper health and safety processes like inspections, investigations, and proper work procedures. You should include any information that pertains to specific work sites or tasks. For example, all workers should learn proper safety protocol for any power equipment used on a work site.

Even small businesses or employers with fewer than 20 workers need health and safety programs. They may be less formal but the information is just as important and valuable.

If you have 20 or more employees your company needs to establish a joint health and safety committee to help train and enforce health and safety regulations.

Maintain a safe environment:

It is important to regularly inspect your workplace to ensure everything runs properly and all the necessary safety equipment is present. Fixing any problems reported by workers goes a long way to promote a safe environment and keep everyone healthy.

Should there be an incident where workers are injured or equipment is damaged, it is your responsibility to investigate what happened and submit any necessary forms. Be sure any injured workers receive full and prompt medical treatment!

Have a first aid attendant and proper supplies:

An employer must make sure that someone is trained and designated as a first aid attendant. The attendant must complete a board-approved first aid training course. The employer must also provide appropriate first aid supplies and written procedures for giving first aid. Requirements about specific supplies, equipment, and levels of first aid certification vary based on size of company and other factors.

Young or new worker orientation and training:

Employers must make sure that all new or young workers (under age 25) receive proper health and safety orientation specific to their workplace and job expectations. These orientations should include (but are not limited to):

  • Workplace health and safety rules
  • Hazards and risks on the job
  • Violence in the workplace
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Location and use of first aid equipment
  • Emergency procedures

Supervisor Responsibilities

A good supervisor is vital to the overall health and safety of everyone at a worksite. They direct workers in performing tasks and control the overall workflow. Every supervisor is responsible for the health and safety of their workers. Make sure you know and abide by requirements that specifically apply to your job site.

Make workers aware:

Your specific responsibilities include making sure each worker is aware of all the known hazards and safety precautions.

Ensure proper safety equipment is available: Supervisors are accountable for making sure appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) is available and in good working order.

Chain Saw Safety Requirements

When working on tasks or job sites that require the use of chain saws it is important to know what safety precautions to take. Here are some of the requirements for health and safety:

  • Keep an operator’s manual with the chain saw for reference and review the operating instructions regularly.
  • Keep all chain saws and other equipment clean and in good repair. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintenance.
  • Properly lubricate and sharpen the saw whenever necessary.

It is also important to make sure everyone wears all the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE). At minimum workers should abide by the following standards:

  • Hard hat: protects the head from any falling objects
  • Full-face shield or safety goggles that have side shields: protects the eyes from dirt, flying debris, and sawdust.
  • Ear protection: the loud noise from saws and other power equipment can do permanent damage to your hearing over time.
  • Safety boots: Good work boots should have high tops to protect the ankles and steel toe boxes to protect the feet from falling objects and injury from saw blades.
  • Leather gloves: keep hands safe from splinters, cuts, and abrasions.
  • Close-fitting clothing: avoid any clothing that might get caught in power equipment
  • Nylon mesh protective chaps and kneepads provide added protection. Protective clothing (trousers, chaps, and jacket) works in layers. The outer layer is tough, covering a layer of long, loose fibers of polyester and tougher fibers like ballistic nylon or Kevlar. The clothing essentially jams the saw and limits damage to the worker’s body.

Fines and Penalties

Employers or companies found in violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations or have an unsafe workplace may face monetary fines.

The amount of the fines are based on the size of the company, the nature of the violation(s), the company’s history of violations, and other factors. In some cases the company may be required to pay all or part of the cost of a worker’s claim.

Be sure to make yourself aware of all the legal rights and responsibilities as an employer, manager, or worker and remember it’s everyone’s responsibility to help maintain a safe, healthy work environment. Contact Timberland Supply for all your safety and maintenance needs.

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