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Chapter 1

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Learning Objectives

After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

define occupational health and safety, occupational injury, and occupational illness describe the financial and social costs associated with occupational injuries and illnesses trace the development of modern models of health and safety management list and describe the role of the major stakeholders in occupational health and safety

explain the connection between human resource management and occupational health and safety
describe the links between human resource practices and health and safety
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Workplace Injuries

Over 1,000 workers die yearly as a result of workplace accidents

About 308,000 suffer injury serious enough to warrant missing work time from work (lost-time injury)

More than half of workplace fatalities attributable to occupational diseases

asbestos effects account for most of these deaths

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OHS Terms

Lost-Time Injury

workplace injury that results in employee missing time from work

Occupational Health & Safety

identification, evaluation, and control of hazards associated with work environment

Occupational Injury

any cut, fracture, sprain, or amputation resulting from workplace accident

Occupational Illness

any abnormal condition or disorder caused by exposure to environmental factors associated with employment
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Historical Development of Modern OHS


Ancient Egypt

work-related illnesses; stonemasons and potters experienced respiratory problems

Industrial Revolution

brown lung disease caused by excessive inhalation of dust

Late 19th century

Ontario legislation established safety standards (machine guards)

Early 20th century

Canada passed factory laws to regulate heating, lighting, ventilation, hygiene, fire safety and accident reporting
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Historical Development of Modern OHS


Royal Commission on Relations of Capital and Labour in Canada (1889)

important influence on the development of OHS regulations: commissioners made several recommendations:

improving health and safety by establishing standards and mandating regular inspections

system for compensating victims of industrial accidents, regardless of who was at fault
labour bureau be created to oversee these activities
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Historical Development of Modern OHS


Ontario government formed Royal Commission on the Health and Safety of Workers in Mines in 1974
Chaired by Dr. James Ham First to articulate the three principal rights of workers:

right to refuse dangerous work without penalty right to participate in identifying and correcting health and safety problems

right to know about hazards in the workplace

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Historical Development of Modern OHS



Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) legislation passed

fundamental right of workers to know about potential hazards in the workplace

Until Early 20th Century

dominant model of dealing with workplace hazards was legal doctrine of assumption of risk

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Changing Perspectives on Risk and Liability


Assumption of Risk

belief that worker accepted risks of employment when job is accepted employers bore little or no responsibility for worker health and safety some individuals are inherently more likely to be involved in accidents, as a result of individual characteristics
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Accident Proneness

Changing Perspectives on Risk and Liability


Modern health and safety programs recognize that enhancing OHS requires cooperation among multiple stakeholders, including:



All stakeholders have role to play

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The Importance of OHS


Economic Considerations

work-related injury costs are direct and indirect costs of workplace injuries exceed $12 billion a year

injuries are not accurately reported

statistics do not adequately capture illnesses caused or exacerbated by exposure to workplace conditions indirect costs:

work stoppages, strikes, reduced morale, reduced productivity, employee turnover and negative publicity

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The Importance of OHS


Legal Considerations

Occupational Health and Safety Act of Ontario, Section 25(2)(h)

employer must exercise due diligence by taking every precaution reasonable for protection of worker

Due Diligence

expected standard of conduct that requires employers to take every reasonable precaution to ensure safety

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The Importance of OHS


Moral Considerations

employers have moral obligation to employees and their families to provide safest working environment possible management commitment to health and safety results in higher levels of employee motivation to work safely and better organizational safety records workers have moral responsibility to learn about safety and health, follow recommended workplace practices, and be alert and responsible employers and employees must work together

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The Stakeholders


Workmens Compensation Act passed in 1914 in Ontario

Lost-time wages provided to almost every injured worker, removing right of workers to sue their employers

After World War I, legislation enacted with two main goals:

Ensure injured workers received compensation and employers accepted liability, and Prevent accidents and illness by establishing safe work environments

Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)

Established by federal government to provide health and safety information to any worker who requests it
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The Stakeholders


Prepare written OHS policy prominently displayed in workplace Provide and maintain equipment, materials, and protective devices Ensure manner in which the work is performed is safe and environment is free from hazards and serious risks

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The Stakeholders


Monitor workplace and report minor, critical, disabling, and fatal injuries, as well as occupational illnesses and toxic substances Establish health and safety committees with strong employee representation Alert employees to any known or perceived risks and hazards in workplace Provide health and safety training
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The Stakeholders

perform duties and tasks in safe and responsible manner

wear protective equipment in compliance with company and legislative regulations

report defective equipment and other workplace hazards to safety professional, Joint Health and Safety Committee, or manager

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The Stakeholders

Organized Labour

bring emerging problems and issues in health and safety to attention of government and employers

pressure other stakeholders to take corrective action

use collective bargaining process to incorporate health and safety provisions in many contracts

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Barriers to OHS programs:

employers more concerned with production quotas than with safety records

employers may clean up just before safety inspection

managers may not recognize unsafe conditions, or feel unable to do anything about those they do identify general medical establishment is neither well versed nor well trained in OHS issues and occupational medicine
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Alliances among stakeholders overcome barriers

Legislation requires an organization with 5+ employees to establish Joint Health and Safety Committee

Ontario has no requirement regarding minimum number of employees if a designated substance (for example, asbestos) is present

Employers, employees, and unions have same goal:

reduction of injuries and illnesses

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OHS Professionals

Employing a health and safety professional can produce returns equal to factors of two or more times the salary paid
Various types of OHS experts may be hired or consulted

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Role of Human Resources


Traditional views emphasize the three Es:

Engineering Education Enforcement

Three Es do not provide a total solution Focusing on people side is likely to result in a safer workplace

OHS is almost exclusively managed under the HR function

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Safety is a People Issue


Effective safety programs depend on developing individual skills and abilities and on motivating individuals HR professionals develop employee knowledge and skills through orientation and training programs HR professionals motivate safe working through compensation and awareness programs Safety leadership and safety climate are predictors of safety outcomes (e.g. incidents, accidents, injuries)

Safety concerns have direct implications for outcomes such as stress and turnover
Scheduling and work overload have direct implications for safety
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Safety Requires Legislative Compliance


OHS is a well-developed area of labour law

Standards and requirements imposed on employers to maintain workplace safety

Administering compliance is a natural outgrowth of the HR function

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Safety Decreases Costs


Added Business Costs:

workers compensation premiums long-term disability coverage sick-time provisions health plans

HR must ensure that payment benefits are used most effectively to:

help injured workers

ensure a prompt return to health and to work

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Safety Relates to Other HR Functions


Training initiatives
Links between job insecurity and safety

individuals who experience job insecurity are more likely to commit safety violations

Performance-based pay systems are associated with increased injury rates

Implementation of teams may reduce injuries

Management of human resources has direct implications for OHS

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Video Link

Due Diligence

This video from WorkSafeBC outlines the safety responsibilities of employers, supervisors, and workers. Clips from WorkSafeBC videos and commercials portray the human cost of workplace accidents. ?ReportID=34539 12 minutes, 21 seconds

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