1) Know the Hazards

You can't prevent injuries and illnesses unless you know what can go wrong. Be aware of the most common hazards and make sure your workers know what they are. For the industries served by IHSA, the most common hazards are

  • motor vehicle incidents (MVIs)
  • falls
  • struck-by hazards (e.g., backing vehicles, misuse of tools)
  • musculoskeletal hazards (e.g., repetitive strain, improper lifting).

Figure out how injuries are most likely to happen when performing your regular job tasks. Once you identify the common hazards specific to your work, you can control them. The best way to do this is to complete a Job Safety Analysis (JSA) for each of your regular job tasks.

To complete a JSA,

  • 1. write down the steps of the job.
  • 2. identify the hazards associated with each step , as well as the surrounding working conditions.
  • 3. determine the best way to protect yourself or your workers (i.e., put controls in place).
  • 4. inform your workers about the hazards and the controls.

Additional Resources

2) Know the Rules

As a business owner and employer, you have legal responsibilities. Know the law and regulations that apply to you and your industry. It's either Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act (and relevant regulations) or the Canada Labour Code Part II for federally regulated businesses. The Canada Labour Code Part II governs health and safety for businesses that operate across provincial or international borders. Some examples include highway transport, pipelines, and shipping. All other businesses in Ontario are governed by the Occupational Health and Safety Act.


3) Get Trained and Provide Training

Ensure that you and your workers have the health and safety training needed for the work you do.

Generic training gives workers general knowledge and understanding. It helps them identify risks in the workplace. IHSA's WHMIS program is an example of this. Generic training requires follow-up training by the employer on job-specific applications.

Job-specific training may involve education on work methods, machinery, and tools. It should also include discussion of hazards specific to the workplace and their controls. For example, a worker may complete a generic Working at Heights course to learn about fall hazards. Once back at work, the worker should also receive training on the fall hazards that are present at the jobsite and on the specific types of personal protective equipment being used.

New worker orientation and training is critical because new workers have a greater chance of getting hurt. New worker doesn't only apply to young workers. It can also apply to an older worker who is new to a particular job or workplace.


4) Ensure Competent Supervision

Employers are obligated to hire competent supervisors, but if your business is small, you may be the supervisor. You may be required to investigate a workplace injury or illness and take steps to prevent it from happening again.

The designated supervisor must,

  • inspect the workplace regularly using knowledge of potential or actual danger to health and safety.
  • enforce company rules, as well as health and safety laws and regulations. You'll have to take the time to become familiar with the Occupational Health and Safety Act or Canada Labour Code Part II and related regulations in order to ensure this legislation is properly followed
  • have the experience to safely organize and plan the work.

5) Talk about Safety with your Employees

Communicate the importance of safety using,

  • five-minute safety talks. These are quick briefings at the start of the day on a particular topic. Think ahead about what you and your employees will be doing and cover the hazards and controls associated with the work. IHSA offers more than 140 free safety talks in the Safety Talks Manual. Download them here.
  • posters, signs, and articles—post them where workers gather.
  • written communications when you're setting out new policies or when specific procedures must be followed.
  • informal discussions throughout the day, which show your workers that you genuinely care about their safety.

6) Integrate Safety into your Business

Safety isn't a burden when it's a seamless part of your regular work. When you're inspecting for quality, inspect for safety as well. When you're giving people their work assignments, remind them about the hazards and controls associated with their work. Write out a safety policy and give your employees time to read it. You can download policy and program templates here.

Like any aspect of a business, health and safety must be managed systematically to ensure quality. You need a health and safety program, which is a practical plan for implementing your policy. It covers the specifics of your work.


7) Lead by Example

Actions speak louder than words. Follow all the health and safety rules. If you don't, your employees may think they don't matter. Take action to correct unsafe conditions or behaviour. If you don't have the expertise within your company, seek help. Start with a call to IHSA. Reward employees who do the job safely.


8) Get to Know IHSA's Resources

IHSA offers training for owners of independent businesses through courses such as,


IHSA also provides free policy and program templates to help you build your health and safety program. Subscribe to IHSA's free 2-Minute News — a monthly e-newsletter, and make sure you receive the free IHSA.ca quarterly magazine. You can also check the News and Events page to stay up-to-date on current issues.