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Employers are required by the occupational health and safety act of their province or territory to maintain a safe working environment for employees and to take every precaution reasonable to safeguard workers.
Every province has an act that sets out what the employer’s general duties are when it comes to workplace safety. As an employer, it’s important that you familiarize yourself with these obligations.
For example, the employer must provide the necessary equipment, materials and protective devices suitable for the job and ensure that they are kept in good condition. The employer is also obligated to acquaint workers or their supervisors of any hazard at the workplace.
A workplace safety or inspection checklist is generally a document that contains a list of housekeeping items that employers need to regularly address to reduce the risk of workplace hazards. This will help the employer provide a safe working environment. An effective safety checklist is one that is monitored regularly — not just when an accident or panic moment occurs.
A thorough checklist that employers goes through as frequently as possible will have a number of significant benefits, such as reducing slip and fall accidents; reducing exposure to hazardous materials; more efficient use of tools and work space; reduced property damage and fires; and improved overall productivity among other things.
What you want to put in your safety checklist are tasks you want to do as an employer — and at times in collaboration with employees — to reduce hazards and safety risks.
At the very least, your safety checklist may include questions on:
- dirt removal;
- maintaining facilities by inspecting windows, doors, roofs and elevators, providing adequate supplies in washrooms, showers, and change rooms particularly if employees handle hazardous materials;
- maintaining work and eating areas;
- maintaining light fixtures, maintaining surfaces dry, even and not slippery especially in aisles, stairways and hard-to-get spaces;
- maintaining tools and equipment in good repair;
- proper waste disposal;
- adequate storage of tools and equipment to reduce tool-handling injuries.
The items in your checklist may vary depending on the type of workplace you’re operating. For instance, a manufacturing or a construction workplace may have a different safety checklist compared to a call centre. It’s important that you tailor your safety checklist to your needs and type of workplace.
It’s not enough to have a workplace safety checklist, it’s important to use it and use it regularly to ensure safety on an ongoing basis. This will reduce workplace accidents and is almost always more cost-effective in the long run.
Examples of what should be included in a safety checklist
Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act