Notes on Legal Mistakes in Employment-Safety

While this is not a legal opinion, we know that Employers, and anyone acting for the Employer, such as Crew Leaders, Supervisors, Managers and others, start with one prime responsibility…keep people safe!

Individuals who have control of the workplace have basic legal obligations with implications for,

  • The safety and well-being of Crew Members and all others, including the public
  • Crew commitment & motivation-keeping them safe, builds your credibility & their trust in you
  • Standards-“doing things right” becomes standard practice
  • Legal issues-after an accident, the first question is, “What safety practices were in place?”

Four key safety aspects to address include,

  • Compliance-ensure your practices comply with all relevant laws & policies. (do your homework).
  • Education-ensure your Crew are educated on safety requirements, practices & precautions.
  • Systems-ensure you have standard systems to verify that proper practices (inspections, procedures, training, equipment, etc) are in place, and checked as required.
  • Enforcement– ensure you enforce safety regulations (e.g. equipment use, wearing protective gear, etc).Having a rule on the books, but not enforcing it makes you liable in case of accident.

 

Harassment & Bullying

-included in the Workplace Safety and Health Act, these issues are noted as factors causing workplace stress, illness and accidents, not to mention conflict, poor work, turnover, and, on occasion, violence. Ensure all work to a high standard of behaviour, and curb any who don’t.

Safety On Site

As Safety is such a massive, multi-faceted area, these four guidelines allow us to focus,

Compliance—-Education—-Systems—-Enforcement

COMMENT-Guidelines are nice, but you need commitment practical support to work within them.

Compliance

So, what are those rules?

1-Workplace Safety & Health Act and Regulations

  • the Act is the formal document, which is translated into more understandable Regulations
  • the website will show you regulations, and also recommended policies & practices

NOTE-Your Safety Rep can help by advising you of which Regulations generally apply to film shoots, how to manage them & commonly occurring issues. (Better you know early, and can prevent them.)

2-Common sense

Seems simple, but when we rush, are under pressure, distracted, inexperienced or all four combine, accidents are likely.

Watch for problems yourself, but ensure Crew Members also do. Short reminders reinforce this.

Crew Leaders, Supervisors and Managers should,

  • Develop a safety plan for their Department and review it with the Safety Rep on each project
  • Ensure all Crew are familiar with safety practices & that knowledge is reinforced,
  • Establish safety systems, checklists, precautions, follow up items & other verifications to confirm that safe, proper conditions exist, (standard practices then become, “business as usual”)
  • Ensure all precautions are taken to prevent or address abusive, harassing or objectionable conduct of any kind, as well as drug or alcohol abuse, (you don’t need disruptions)
  • Ensure proper emergency procedures are in place, and first aid service is available at all times and is provided, as required,
  • Ensure that all Workers Compensation requirements are met, including reporting of accidents, even if no injury. If there is no report, and a person later sees a Doctor, that Physician must report it to WCB. Note-The persons’ claim may be denied, and WCB may act against the Employer for not filing a report themselves

Workplace Safety & Health Representatives

Each project will have a Safety Rep available to ensure safe practices are followed. As a key resource, it is essential that we work with the Safety Rep in a collaborative manner.

Meet with a Project Safety Rep to learn their role and the support they can provide you.

Recommendation

save time and learn more, contact a Safety Rep now, before embarking on your next project. You will have a more effective, and less hurried discussion that will not only save time, but better position yourself for your next project. ((Consider this homework assignment if you are really serious on Safety)

 

a-As you start each project, meet with the Safety Rep to discuss both,

  1. Normal, expected safety requirements, and,
  2. Any special situations ( locations, stunts, hazardous materials, equipment, or conditions, etc)

 

b-Ensure your Crew are familiar with the Safety Rep, their role & safety obligations they have.

 

Meeting questions to discuss with Safety Reps

  • What are the most common problems you see?
  • What issues exist in Departments such as mine?
  • What simple guidelines can we follow to prevent problems?
  • What do you want to see from my Crew and myself?
  • What type of documentation is required?
  • Who investigates accidents?

 

Education

Recalling the legal rights of employees, all Canadians have the right,

  • To know about the hazards of the work they are doing,
  • To be involved in the solution to safety problems, and,
  • To be able to refuse unsafe work.

To ensure proper precautions and processes are in place, we also need to ensure all Employees are both trained and knowledgeable about key aspects of safety so they can promptly take the correct action or address situations as required.

1-Are there training, licensing or other formal qualifications for tasks any of your Crew may have to perform? (driving, operating tools or equipment, stunts, hazardous materials or electricity, etc).

2-Training must be reinforced on an ongoing basis to be truly effective. Legally, new employees must be briefed on safety. Those recently trained need support to solidify the training that has taken place.

3-Where formal training is not required, ensure that specific safety precautions & practices are in place.

Recommendation-Consider having more experienced Crew brief, advise or mentor newcomers on proper precautions and steps. This aids newcomers in learning safe practices, as well as, develops the teaching/coaching skills of experienced Crew and strengthens your whole team.

 

Safety Systems

 

Simple systems save time and effort.

Establishing a simple, systematic approach to anything is more effective then re-inventing the wheel!

Safety is such a complex and ongoing challenge; you can manage it more successfully through establishing and maintaining a simple, systematic approach.

For Example-A consistent plan of quick, daily inspections will save time and,

  • prevent many problems by noting changes or issues consistently,
  • confirm that everything is in proper working order each day,
  • become part of the everyday, routine, planning for and minimizing the time required,
  • ensure that it happens as a matter of course, without you having to address it every day.

Checklists-are a simple, effective system to also,

  • ensure proper conditions exist, or problems are highlighted,
  • ensure the same items are checked each time, signed off on as complete, and,
  • reduce the many things you have on your mind in the midst of a busy project.

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)-A fancy phrase for doing a task the same way, every time. A common business practice. Practical, simple, consistent, requiring less time and much easier to teach to newcomers.

This approach is effective in safety and most other recurring tasks. It establishes the way you need things done, and saves time for you to concentrate on other challenges you face.

Inspections-Most equipment safety precautions include regular inspections (daily, weekly, monthly, etc) to verify the equipment is in safe working order.

Simple, site inspections are a practical daily action to note and eliminate hazards. For example,

  • electrical cords on the ground or other obstacles to trip over,
  • items piled up that may fall,
  • electrical outlets that are overloaded,
  • burned out lights,
  • temporary changes that have not been put back in their original state.

NOTE-Even if hazards noted are “not my Department”, ensure you or your Crew remedy, or advise those who should know.

NOTE-In the event of an accident, you will likely need to show the documentation of safety practices you have in place. Failure to do so may have legal implications

For all Crew Members

  • ensure all Employees are fully briefed on safety and required practices
  • ensure that required qualifications or training are confirmed and document it.
  • establish ongoing safety reinforcement and verification checklists are being used.

For newer, or less experienced Crew Members

  • ensure all new Crew Members are fully briefed on safety and understand your priorities.

Recommendations

To ensure proper learning, and to reinforce safety practices, use a test or quiz, have some fun, to confirm that learning has taken place.

Compare safety practices and issues with other Managers. Seek out “best practices” in safety.

SAFETY ENFORCEMENT

Complacency-Fortunately, most workplaces have few accident and injuries. This can lead to complacency, and a relaxed, careless attitude that contributes to accidents.

In addition, most people feel they work in a safe manner. Some don’t see the need to take precautions, especially when everything seems in order. Others are careless

In Step 4-Enforcement-we start with reinforcement of key safety messages through,

  • initially confirming safety as a priority, as he project begins,
  • reminding Crews regularly to “work safe”,
  • requesting safety inspections and checklists to be completed,
  • ensuring Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are followed.
  • Key Note-as people may be at risk, taking disciplinary action on safety issues has a higher priority than other transgressions.