A health and safety program is a coordinated system of procedures and processes used to improve occupational health and safety and prevent injury and illness in the workplace.
Employers, workers and other work site parties are responsible for their own health and safety, as well as that of everyone at or near the work site.
The program encourages people to be aware of their roles and responsibilities and to work together to identify and solve health and safety concerns.
Work site requirements
Employers with 20 or more workers must have a health and safety program that is developed in consultation with the joint work site health and safety committee or representative, if there is one.
Employers with fewer than 20 workers are not required to have a program, but must have documentation in place that meets the requirements established by the OHS legislation. This includes assessment and control of workplace hazards and an emergency response plan. The employer must consult with the health and safety representative, if there is one, and involve affected workers.
Resource: Do I need a health and safety program?
Each full-time and part-time worker counts as one worker. This includes workers hired from temporary staffing agencies.
The number of workers is determined by the average number of workers on a daily basis on each working day:
- over the previous 12 months (if operations began at least 12 months prior)
- since the operations began (if operations began less than 12 months prior)
- expected to be present over the duration of a new operation lasting 90 days or more but less than 12 months
Multiple work sites
For employers with multiple work sites, the total number of workers at all work sites count towards the 20 workers.
The program at each work site can be the same but some aspects may need to be adjusted based on the hazards of each work site. The unique requirements for the multiple sites should be accounted for in the employer’s OHS program.
Multiple employers or self-employed persons at one work site
If a work site with multiple employers or self-employed persons has a prime contractor, the prime contractor must coordinate the program for that work site.
If there is no prime contractor, each employer must establish a program. The employers could work together to establish procedures for coordinating their programs.
Health and safety programs must include these 10 elements:
- health and safety policy
- hazard assessment and control
- emergency response plan
- statement of OHS responsibilities of the employer, supervisors and workers at a work site
- schedule and procedures for work site inspections
- procedures for when another employer or self-employed person is working at the work site
- health and safety orientation and training for workers and supervisors
- procedures for investigating incidents, injuries and refusals to work
- procedures for worker participation in work site health and safety, including inspections and investigating incidents, injuries and refusals to work
- procedures for reviewing and revising the health and safety program
Resource: Health and safety program information
If additional elements are required by the regulations, employers must ensure these are included in the OHS program.
The program must be reviewed every 3 years or more often if there is a change in circumstances that creates or could create hazards to workers, such as new technology or production methods or discovering new risks associated with existing conditions.