Health and Safety Policy

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), employers are legally required to prepare a written occupational health and safety policy outlining the employer’s commitment to protecting the health and safety of workers. The policy must come from the perspective of the employer and senior management, must be maintained and implemented company-wide, and must be reviewed annually under section 25(2)(j) of the OHSA.

The policy is a way for the employer to not only communicate the significance of health and safety in the workplace but also to ensure workers are aware of the policy and their duties and rights within it. Workplaces with clearly defined health and safety responsibilities benefit from enhanced working relationships between its employers and workers, according to the Ministry of Labour.

In addition to the policy, employers must also implement a program to ensure the policy is being enforced.

What needs to be included in your occupational health and safety policy?

The written policy should include:

  • A reference to the employer’s and senior managements’ interest in the health and safety of workers;
  • The company’s commitment to making all efforts to ensure and provide all workers with a safe and healthy working environment;
  • The employer’s responsibility to protect workers from injury and occupational disease;
  • An outline of the responsibilities of everyone the policy applies to (including employers, supervisors, workers and so on);
  • The company’s commitment to compliance and legislation; and
  • A signature from the president of the company.

The policy should be posted in a visible place accessible to all workers.

Note: Workplaces covered under the OHSA must also have a workplace harassment and violence policy, which we’ve reviewed separately here.

Implementing the Occupational Health and Safety Policy

Employers are also responsible for instigating a program that ensures the health and safety policy is being implemented.

Occupational health and safety policies may include numerous components depending on the extent of the hazards applicable to the workplace. This may include:

  • Internal responsibility systems
  • Health and safety representatives and/or joint committees
  • Workplace inspections
  • Worker training such as WHMIS, health and safety training, internal procedures and so on
  • Health and safety budget information
  • Machine guarding and material handling
  • Protective equipment
  • Emergency procedures, instructions and contacts
  • First aid
  • Communication process for expressing workplace health and safety concerns
  • Fire prevention measures

This list names some examples that may or may not be included in an occupational health and safety program, but it should not be seen as comprehensive.

Need help developing or reviewing your occupational health and safety policy? We can help.

At Peninsula, we’re committed to the health and safety of Ontario’s workplaces. Our experts work with employers and organizations to develop and implement health and safety policies and programs. We want to ensure employers are meeting all their requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). For questions and concerns about occupational health and safety at your workplace, give us a call at 1-888-216-2550.