Fatality Notice: IHSA has learned of a construction-related fatality in Sudbury involving a construction worker securing a transport trailer load. One workplace fatality is one too many, regardless of the sector, industry, or occupation. Please take a moment to think about those who have died or been injured on the job and re-establish a commitment to the prevention of injuries, illnesses, and fatalities.

Small Business Evaluation

IHSA is currently designing a Health and Safety System Self-Evaluation program for Small Business. Below you will find information on elements that will be included in the evaluation. If you are a small business seeking guidance on the development of a health and safety system, please contact Dawn Vanags at dvanags@ihsa.ca or 905-302-1394


Health and Safety Policy

A health and safety policy helps promote an effective health and safety system. It shows the employer’s commitment to worker health and safety. To be effective it must be prepared by senior management and be consistent with the workplace’s health and safety goals and objectives. It should show a commitment to comply with the law at a minimum and outline the responsibilities of the employer, supervisor, workers and other interested parties. The policy should be signed by the CEO and/or senior manager on site, be dated and updated annually to reflect changes in the workplace. It is expected that the policy has been communicated to all employees and is posted in a common location.

Evaluation Criteria
  • Does the firm’s statement include a clause that illustrates the CEO/owner’s commitment to continually improve the firm’s occupational health and safety performance?
  • Does the statement reflect the true scope of the organization? (e.g. size, remote worksites, multiple locations, visitors, suppliers, etc.)
  • Does it take into consideration what resources need to be allocated to health and safety?
  • Does the statement express the desire to, at a minimum; comply with all current/applicable legislation?
  • In short – is it a comprehensive and realistic demonstration of the firm’s commitment to health and safety?

Organizational Flow Chart

The organizational flow chart is an effective way to present the organizational structure. It should include all job positions, and be reviewed and updated on a regular basis to reflect changes. The organizational flow chart easily communicates responsibilities, dependencies and relationships. By outlining specific departmental information it can be used as a baseline for planning and budgeting.

Evaluation Criteria
  • Have all positions been included?
  • Is it up to date?

Job Descriptions

A job description should outline work functions, responsibilities, competencies and reporting relationships. It can help employees understand their job accountabilities and be used when conducting performance evaluations. Having measurable health and safety responsibilities will help when applying these accountabilities to an employee’s performance review. Job descriptions should be available for all positions that have been identified in the organizational flow chart. They should be reviewed regularly to ensure accuracy and reflect any changes in job function. It is also expected that the written description has been reviewed with employees to ensure they are familiar with the contents of the document.

Evaluation Criteria
  • Are job descriptions available for all positions identified in the organizational chart?
  • Are these current? What is the schedule for their review, and whose responsibility is this?
  • Have measurable health and safety responsibilities been clearly outlined for each position?

Meeting Minutes

Meetings can be an effective way of collaborating and keeping all interested parties informed of areas of change within your health & safety system, if they are well planned with an agenda of set topics for discussion, and effectively facilitated. All meetings (i.e. with the management team or safety meetings) should have a terms of reference, keep a record of attendance, and be regularly scheduled. Participation from required individuals should be adhered to. All meeting minutes should be complete with action items generated during the meeting and include tentative follow-up dates. This includes assigning the action to an individual or group, including a target completion date, and a documented completion date when the action item has been fulfilled.

Evaluation Criteria

Management Meetings (agendas/minutes) – if applicable

  • Are there terms of reference for these meetings?
  • Are action items being tracked and followed up in a timely manner?

Safety Meeting Minutes – if applicable

  • Are there terms of reference for these meetings?
  • Are action items being tracked and followed up in a timely manner?

Orientation for Contract/New/Promotion/Temporary

Orientation programs are a great way to welcome new employees and contract workers and assist them in adjusting to their jobs and work environment. There are generally two parts to an orientation program: a general introduction into the company, its culture, values, vision and policies; and a departmental or job-specific orientation when the employee actually starts work. Familiarize new employees with the policies and procedures for your organization, introduce new employees to all key staff and provide a tour of the facilities. Outline behaviour expectations and practices in your workplace including acceptable treatment of tools, property, other employees and customers as well as workplace safety and emergency procedures. Ensure employees are comfortable with their responsibilities as outlined in their job descriptions, and their rights and duties as outlined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Evaluation Criteria
  • Is there an orientation program for new/young/temporary/contract workers?
  • Is this program adequate to ensure that all new employees are made aware of existing documentation, and their rights and duties as outlined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act?

Return to Work

Return to work is an important element in every health and safety system. Although the prevention of injuries and illness is the ultimate goal, when injuries and illness do occur, it is important to try to minimize the human and economic impact of these events on the employer and the employee by focusing on returning the employee to safe and productive work as soon as it is medically possible to do so. At the Commitment Level, it is expected that the firm have an early and safe return to work policy that meets legislative requirements at a minimum. The policy should outline the roles and responsibilities of all parties including the employee, employer, WSIB and health care providers. Additional elements of this program will be reviewed at the Effort Level (i.e. modified work, functional abilities assessments, etc).

Evaluation Criteria
  • Does the firm’s early return to work policy meet the legislative requirements set out by the WSIB?
  • Have individual roles and responsibilities been clearly outlined?


Employee training is a key component of any health and safety system. The area of the training program focused on in the Commitment evaluation is the training matrix. The training matrix should list the training requirements for all employees and dates of completion. Any time the duties, equipment and/or process change it is expected that the employee receive updated training and this should be captured within the matrix. At the Effort Level other elements of the training program such as a training needs assessment and evaluation of the effectiveness of training will be considered.

Evaluation Criteria
  • Does the firm have a training matrix to track training requirements and training that has been completed for each employee?

Job Planning

Job planning is an important process to ensure that safety measures are incorporated into all stages of the job from the design stage until completion. This includes the creation of job plans, system maps, work procedures and tailboard conferences. Essential in the job planning process is the assessment and control of anticipated hazards, and communication of this to all employees. A job planning procedure should outline the level of planning required and the techniques to be used for the type of work being done.

Evaluation Criteria
  • Is there a documented job planning procedure?
  • Are there clear criteria outlining when a written job plan is required?

Health and Safety Representative (For Workplaces with 6 – 19 employees)

A health and safety representative is required at a workplace or construction project where six or more workers are regularly employed, and where there is no joint committee. The representative must be chosen by the workers, or by the union if there is one. Health and safety representatives have essentially the same powers as joint committee members, except for the power to stop work. The firm should have a clearly identified health and safety representative who is given the ability to complete their powers under the Occupational Health and Safety Act including identifying workplace hazards (usually exercised by conducting workplace inspections), obtain information from the employer, be consulted about workplace testing, make recommendations to the employer, investigate work refusals and serious injuries and request information from the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board.

Evaluation Criteria
  • Is there a document that outlines duties/responsibilities of a health and safety representative?
  • Has a health and safety representative been identified?
  • Is the health and safety representative given resources (time, access, etc) to complete their duties?

Workplace Violence & Harassment

Employers have a legislative responsibility to protect workers from incidents of workplace violence and harassment. There are specific duties and requirements for employers, including transportation, construction and utility industry employers. The legislation includes definitions of workplace violence and harassment directed towards a worker from any person, including clients, co-workers, friends, current or former family members, and strangers. It also extends a workers’ right to refuse work if they believe that they are at risk of physical injury due to possible workplace violence. Under the legislation employers must: prepare policies on workplace violence and harassment and develop and maintain programs to implement them; assess the risks of workplace violence based on the nature of the workplace and type of work, and develop measures and procedures to control them; if aware of potential for domestic violence, take reasonable precautions to protect workers who are at risk of physical injury; and alert certain workers to the risk of workplace violence from persons with a history of violent behaviour.

Evaluation Criteria
  • Has a workplace violence and harassment policy been prepared?
  • Has the employer assessed the risk of workplace violence?
  • Has the employer developed procedures to control the risk?
  • Have precautions been taken to protect workers from domestic violence?
  • Has the employer provided information and instruction to the workers?

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