Safety starts with awareness and understanding. A company’s safety policy with a signature from the most senior official demonstrates leadership’s personal and corporate commitment to a safe workplace. It lets employees know that safety is a priority throughout the organization, and that unsafe practices are not acceptable.
Every employer with 20 or more employees regularly working in the province must have a written safety policy. The safety policy sets out the responsibilities of the employer, the supevisor and the employees. It is a document that indicates the workplace commitment to health and safety and is an important component of the overall health and safety program.
Workplaces with five to nineteen employees at a workplace must also have a safety policy in place, and that policy may include a requirement for a health and safety representative. In workplaces that have a high risk of health and safety to their employees, or where the accident record is higher than normal, WorkSafeNB may require the employer to establish a safety policy and include a requirement for a health and safety representative. Where the health and safety representative is required, employees must elect this person. The employer must post the name of the elected health and safety representative in a prominent place or places at the workplace(s).
A safety policy:
- Should be treated as one of the most important policies within your organization.
- Must be developed in consultation with the employees.
- Should express management’s commitment to protect employee health and safety.
- Should clearly identify the program’s objectives.
- Should communicate the organization’s basic health and safety philosophy.
- Should be absolutely clear that:
- health and safety will not be sacrificed for anyone’s convenience
- unsafe behaviour will not be tolerated
- Should continually evolve over time as job functions and business activities change.
- Should be brought to life and be backed up with action.
- Must be posted in every workplace of the employer.
- Must be provided to an officer if requested.
Tips for Turning Your Safety Policy Into Action
- Have the owner, president or CEO sign the policy.
- Ensure it is written in clear language.
- Ensure every employee sees a copy, understands its requirements and supports and enforces it as required.
- Ensure it is communicated to new employees as part of the hiring process.
- Ensure it is dated, reviewed and signed annually.
- Provide adequate human and financial resources to support the policy.
Keep in mind that a policy sitting in a filing cabinet does not change anything. Even the best policy will be ineffective if it’s not properly used – and that starts with communicating it.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT
S.N.B. 1983, c. O-0.2
DUTIES OF EMPLOYERS, OWNERS, CONTRACTORS, SUB-CONTRACTORS, SUPERVISORS, EMPLOYEES AND SUPPLIERS
Section 8 Establishment and filing of safety policy
8. (1) Every employer with 20 or more employees regularly employed in the Province shall establish a written safety policy, in consultation with the employees.
(1.1) The safety policy shall set out the responsibilities of the employer, supervisors and employees.
(2) The employer shall keep a copy of the safety policy at each place of employment of the employer and shall make it available to an officer on request.
[S.N.B. 2001, c. 35, s. 2; 2013, c. 15, s. 2; 2019, c. 38, s. 2, 3; 2022, c. 32, s. 4]
HEALTH AND SAFETY REPRESENTATIVES
Section 17 Health and safety representatives
17. (0.1) This section does not apply to a project site.
(1) Subject to subsection (2), every employer with not fewer than five and not more than nineteen employees regularly employed at a place of employment shall establish a safety policy in respect of that place of employment which shall set out the responsibilities of the employer, supervisors and employees and which may include provision for a health and safety representative.
(2) Where the nature of employment at a place of employment presents a high risk to the health and safety of employees or where the accident record of a place of employment is higher than is normal for that place of employment or for similar places of employment, the Commission may require an employer to establish and file with the Commission a safety policy that includes provision for a health and safety representative.
(3) Where a safety policy established under subsection (1) or (2) includes provision for a health and safety representative, the employees shall elect a health and safety representative.
(4) The employer shall post the name of the elected health and safety representative in a prominent place or places at the place of employment.
[S.N.B. 2007, c. 12, s. 6; 2019, c. 38, s. 9]