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Abstract A safe and healthy work environment is a goal everyone shares.

Albertas Occupational Health and Safety Act focuses on keeping the workplace safe for you and others you work with. The Act sets standards to protect and support the health and safety of workers throughout the province. It describes the duties of workers and others connected with the workplace. The Act gives the government power to make rules for health and safety at the workplace. It sets out the basic duties and obligations of employers and workers. The Occupational Health and Safety Regulation addresses requirements related to general government policy and administrative matters. The Occupational Health and Safety Code specify all the technical standards and safety rules that employers and workers have to comply with to fulfill their obligations. The Code covers areas such as noise, chemical hazards and first aid, to name a few. The Code first took effect on April 30, 2004. As a worker, you should be aware of the Act and the requirements of the Regulation and Code that apply at your workplace. The Act affects most workers and employers in the Province of Alberta. The major exceptions are: Domestic workers (such as nannies or housekeepers) Federal government employees Workers in federally regulated industries (for example, banks, transportation companies whose workers cross provincial borders, and television and radio broadcasters) Farmers and certain agricultural workers

Introduction This module is designed to provide basic information on how to build and maintain a workplace health and safety committee that will be an effective mechanism for resolving health problems in the workplace. However, besides establishing a health and safety committee, trade unions must also organize, educate and take action if they are going to solve their health and safety problems. There are no universal rules that describe exactly how a health and safety committee should be established or how it should operate. The structures, powers, operating procedures, and even number of committees will vary from workplace to workplace. Differences will reflect many factors including: workers' needs, the variety and extent of the hazards, management attitudes to health and safety, etc. In a number of countries, national legislation exists requiring joint labourmanagement health and safety committees. Even if a joint committee is established by law or by collective agreement, a local union health and safety committee should also be examined. A local committee is particularly necessary if a joint committee does not exist. Health and safety at work is essentially an issue of working conditions. Winning the improvements that are needed and protecting the workers against changes that may have a negative impact on them requires organization within the union. The local union committee is a vital part of the mechanism for resolving workplace health and safety concerns and can be an effective organizational tool. An educated membership should always be the base from which health and safety problems are addressed. It is the job of the local union committee to represent rank

and file workers on these issues. It is the job of the joint committee to raise the various issues with management.

Imminent danger Imminent danger refers to any danger that is not normal for your job, or to any dangerous condition that you would not normally work under. An example would be a worker, not trained in handling explosives, who is asked to destroy some explosives left behind from a job. If you are in a situation of an imminent danger, you are required to stop work. Explain to your employer why you stopped work. Your employer must then investigate the situation and take action to eliminate the danger. If your employer is not at the work site, you should take whatever steps are necessary to contact him or her, as soon as possible. Your employer can assign you to other work until the problem has been investigated and is fixed. Or, your employer can assign someone else to do the work if that person is trained to handle the danger. Your employer must give you a report of what the investigation found and what action was taken. If your employer does not agree that there is a danger, or if you cant agree on a way to fix the problem, you can contact the Occupational Health and Safety Contact Centre. An occupational health and safety officer will investigate the situation and make a decision about what action to take. Both you and your employer must comply with the officers decision. If, however, your or your employer disagrees with the officers decision, you can request that the Occupational Health and Safety Council review the matter. The officer can explain how to go about doing so. Dangerous situations can sometimes be fixed quickly, but not always. Sometimes work needs to be stopped for a long time, or a business shut down, and your employer may call a layoff. In

that situation, the normal layoff procedure applies. However, your employer may not lay you off or fire you because you refuse to do dangerous work if it presents an imminent danger.

Managing Health and Safety in the Workplace

To avoid overlooking important health and safety issues, employers need to adopt a systematic approach to managing health and safety. This can be done by establishing a program in which health and safety is an integral part of management from top level managers to supervisors. Recommended elements for an effective health and safety management program include: Top level management are involved and committed. Managers need to understand their responsibilities under health and safety legislation and be aware of the hazards specific to their organization. Management must be committed to and held accountable for providing a healthy and safe workplace has information about identifying hazards, and assessing and controlling risks. Supervisors are assigned responsibilities and authority for ensuring the health and safety of employees under their supervision. The responsibility for the health and safety of employees under their supervision should be promoted as an integral part of a supervisor's job. To ensure the health and safety of employees, supervisors need to be aware of their responsibilities and will require adequate information, training and resources. Supervisors will need the authority to take action to protect health and safety. Managers will need to ensure supervisors are accountable.

Health and safety policies and procedures are prepared. A policy should detail the arrangements for protecting employees' health and safety and outline the responsibilities of management and employees. It must be supported by written procedures so that everyone in the organization is aware of their responsibilities. Procedures need to be in plain English, easy to follow and all employees should understand them. Policies and procedures must be reviewed and updated to reflect any changes in legislation, plant and equipment, substances used in the workplace, systems of work or the work environment. Effective

mechanisms between

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representatives on all aspects of health and safety in the workplace such as identifying, assessing and controlling hazards, injury and incident investigation, and the development of health and safety policies and procedures, is essential. Consultation encourages employees to participate, contribute ideas and assist with solving problems.

Health and Safety Policy A health and safety policy is an organizations statement detailing how it will ensure a healthy and safe work environment. Individual policies will need to be developed for specific hazards and issues, e.g. smoking in the workplace, manual handling and first aid. Policies should be supported by procedures which provide the stepbystep instructions on how policies will be achieved.

Health and safety policies are important because they establish arrangements for protecting the health and safety of employees. The general health and safety policy is an important way of demonstrating to management, supervisors and employees that there is a commitment to ensuring high standards of health and safety. The general health and safety policy should clearly indicate the organizations health and safety objectives and the arrangements for achieving those objectives, including the different functions and levels of responsibility of all people with a role to play in health and safety. It is recommended that a health and safety policy should: detail the organizations health and safety objectives state senior management's commitment to health and safety demonstrate that senior management accepts primary responsibility for the health and safety of all employees identify the Responsible Officer, who must be a senior executive, chief executive officer or equivalent define the role and responsibilities of the Responsible Officer, managers, supervisors, employees, and any other relevant people explain how people with health and safety responsibilities will be held accountable for effective performance of these duties provide the name(s) or position(s) of the people to whom employees may make inquiries and complaints about health and safety issues

Operating procedures and recommendations If the union decides that a joint committee is useful despite the possible limitations, then it is recommended that the union negotiate the joint committee

structure and responsibilities, rather than set up a union-management committee without contract language. Listed below are some operating procedures and a number of recommendations which can help the committee function effectively:

The union should have the same number of members as management. The workers should have the exclusive right to select their side of the committee.

The position of the committee chairperson should rotate between management and union.

Members of management on the committee should be senior enough to make real decisions.

The committee should have the authority to make decisions and put them into effect. If large sums of money are needed then strong recommendations should be made through the proper channels.

The union should have a major say in the agenda and in deciding priorities. The committee should hold regular meetings, at least once a month, with emergency meetings called by either worker or management members as often as needed.

Written notice of all meetings, with agendas, should be circulated to all members in advance.

The committee should send written reports to workers who have raised concerns.

The committee should be able to make unannounced inspections of the workplace.

The committee should be notified immediately of any accident, near-miss, or work-related illness so it can conduct an immediate investigation.

There should be a method of monitoring the effectiveness of the committee in dealing with the issues raised by the union.

The committee should have access to the relevant information on health and safety kept by the employer (monitoring results, hazardous materials, etc.).

Committee members should have the right to take samples in the workplace and carry out simple monitoring. Alternatively, if there is no equipment or training in the use of monitoring equipment, the committee should be able to insist that trained specialists be brought in from outside.

Worker committee members should receive lost time pay for carrying out their functions and for receiving adequate independent training.

Facilities should be provided for the worker side of the committee to meet separately.

The health and safety committee must learn to handle problems and projects in order of importance. This skill is vital for a committee to be effective because in a workplace with many problems, it will be impossible to address all of the problems at once.

Attempting to solve too many items at once is a common cause of committee failure. Genuine sharing of responsibility for health and safety between management and union will exist only if the majority of these principles are established.

Conclusion Workers in every occupation can be faced with a multitude of hazards in the workplace. Occupational health and safety addresses the broad range of workplace hazards from accident prevention to the more insidious hazards including toxic fumes, dust, noise, heat, stress, etc. Preventing work-related diseases and accidents must be the goal of occupational health and safety programs, rather than attempting to solve problems after they have already developed. Hazards in the workplace can be found in a variety of forms, including chemical, physical, biological, psychological, non-application of ergonomic principles, etc. Because of the multitude of hazards in most workplaces and the overall lack of attention given to health and safety by many employers, workrelated accidents and diseases continue to be serious problems in all parts of the world. Therefore, trade unions must insist that employers control hazards at the source and not force workers to adapt to unsafe conditions. Management commitment to health and safety and strong worker participation are two essential elements of any successful workplace health and safety program. The most effective accident and disease prevention begins when work processes are still in the design stage. In terms of occupational safety and health, there are volumes of materials, information and aids available to anyone. There are now more safety practitioners, advisors and consultants. The fast face at which Malaysia is advancing technologically means that information and guidance on any safety and health issues can easily be accessed. Even the government is trying their level best to curb the astounding accident statistics and every effort is being made to make the work

site more conducive. Unfortunately the work sites are far from perfect and are still unsatisfactory.

Reference

1. Hon Michael Wright MP. August (2006). Workplace Health and Safety Handbook. Government of SA 2. Your Health and Safety at Work: Using Health and Safety Committees at Work. International Labour Organization. http://actrav.itcilo.org/actravenglish/telearn/osh/com/comain.html

3. Hogan Plece. January (2006). Guidelines on Risk Assessments and Safety Statements. Published by the Health and Safety Authority.

4. Wameedh A.Khdair (2011). Improving Safety. International Conference on Management and Artificial Intelligence. Bali, Indonesia.

5. www.employment.alberta.ca/ohs-legislation

6. http://www.monash.edu.au/lls/llonline/writing/information-technology