EMC members gathered to talk about WSIB Workwell Audits, Core and Advantage Safety Group programs, and legal safety requirements. The session was facilitated by Kelly Killby, EMC Staff Support for our Safety Group program.
It all starts with the laws protecting workers. The goal, of course, is a safe workplace where everyone punches out as healthy as when they punched in. Ministry of Labour inspectors enforce the laws, and Workwell audits help (since failing an initial Workwell audit has the positive effect of providing you with areas to improve and giving you three months to improve them before there are negative consequences). However, the WSIB offers another tool: voluntary participation in a Safety Group to systematically and proactively create a safety management system.
Safety groups help by guiding you through an incremental, five-year Core program to develop the management system, and then by formalizing the continuous improvement aspect in the subsequent Advantage program.
In the Core program, companies develop their safety management system. Companies set their own procedures in five safety areas, choosing from an element list provided by the WSIB. For each element, companies develop a standard procedure, with the legal requirements as a minimum and any increase in safety practices dependent on the organization. Employees are informed and then trained, and the company starts the continuous improvement in that area by evaluating its progress. Each year, as companies move through the five years of Core, they add five elements to the management system and maintain the previous elements.
In year six companies move to the Advantage program where they choose an audit methodology to follow. The work in the Advantage program involves identifying shortfalls, formally acknowledging them in the audit, and then developing and executing a plan to deal with the shortfalls. The goal is continuous improvement at a pace that is realistic for the company.
The reasons companies take on the work of a safety program is twofold: first, the structure of the program keeps companies progressing in their safety efforts. Second, the WSIB offers rebates as incentives.
There is a catch, however: the WSIB audits safety group members to maintain the accountability of the program. Failing an audit forfeits the rebate. It’s all or nothing. What is commonly misunderstood is the objective of the audit. What is being audited is the performance of the safety management system. You are expected to use your own system to evaluate your safety in the elements you have completed. (This is where the documentation of the system is critical.) You are supposed to self-identify the shortfalls (and develop a plan to address them). Then the auditor comes in and does the same thing and evaluates whether the two results match.
For example, if you judge that you are conforming to your own safety procedure and so does the auditor, things are fine.
If you judge that you are not conforming to your own safety procedure and you develop a plan to improve that procedure, and if the auditor also judges that you are not conforming to your safety procedure and sees documentation that an improvement plan is in place, things are also fine.
The trouble comes when you judge yourself in conformance and the auditor disagrees. The goal is not a perfect safety system but a documented self-improving one.
Many other topics were discussed at the SIG, including MOL guidelines for disciplinary action, the pros and cons of different self-audit frameworks, ways that EMC helps the members in its safety group to prepare for an audit, and tips for hazard identification and risk assessment. If you find these abbreviated notes intriguing, be sure to sign up early for future SIGs so you can take part in the discussions and get all the details.