AUGUST 2016                                                             FRANÇAIS


You work hard to build your business, often from the ground up. You invest your time and money; you have a business plan (or not); and you know your work. You have a work space, equipment, and employees, so you're registered with the WSCC. Everything you need to run your business is in place... or is it? Does your business have a safety program?

While small businesses in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut are generally not required to develop a formal OHS Program, they do need to maintain a safe workplace and operate according to the Safety Act and Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Regulations. That includes developing and implementing safe work procedures and training workers.

The WSCC defines a small business as an operation with less than 20 employees. No business is too small to have an Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Program. Your workers need to know what to do in the event of an accident, and you need to make sure you have plans and procedures in place that will ensure they stay safe. Having an OHS program in place helps you operate safely every day as you run your business.


WSCC has published the Occupational Health and Safety Program Guide for Small Businesses. This Guide explains what you need and why. It describes how you can build your program and includes samples and templates you can customize for your business.

To complement the Occupational Health and Safety Program Guide for Small Businesses, another resource you can turn to is the WSCC's OHS Specialist. Our OHS Specialist is available to answer any questions you might have. Having trouble getting started? The OHS Specialist can help you understand the OHS Regulations and work with you to develop an OHS Program tailored to the needs of your business. Have an existing OHS Program, but want to know where it could improve? Our OHS Specialist can look through your program with you and identify gaps and provide suggestions for improvement.

On Tuesday, September 6, the Guide will be available for download from our website on our OHS Program page. To reach our OHS Specialist, email us at, or call us toll-free at 1-800-661-0792.

Until then, here's a preview of what you can expect from the Guide, as well as some tips on how to develop your own OHS Program.


There are four essential aspects to effectively managing health and safety for your business:

DEFINE roles and assign responsibilities for working safely. In addition to providing a safe workplace, make sure everyone knows the role they play within your organization. Safety is a team effort: your supervisors must be aware of all potential hazards and communicate those to your workers. Make sure your workers know that they can and should report any new hazards that arise.

IDENTIFY and inform your workers of all workplace hazards and hazard controls. Your workers have the right to know if their working conditions pose any risk to their safety. It is your responsibility as their employer to alert them in advance to any hazards they might encounter. If you relocate your workers to a new worksite, or have new machinery/equipment, make sure all hazards are identified and you train your workers in the correct safety procedures.

EDUCATE and train your workers in safe work procedures and legislated OHS requirements. It is not enough to simply make your workers aware of any hazards in their work environment; you must ensure they understand their health and safety roles and responsibilities. Provide them with the proper training to ensure they know how to work safely, and ensure that any workers handling hazardous materials have current WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information Systems) training.

DOCUMENT and keep records of your OHS activities. Record keeping demonstrates your due diligence. Having a record of your OHS history helps your business meet its legislated requirements under the Safety Act and OHS Regulations.


The Occupational Health and Safety Program Guide for Small Businesses will offer you a step-by-step guide to developing an OHS program. To aid your process, we've created an OHS Program Development Checklist for you. It all boils down to 10 questions:
  1. Do you have an OHS Policy?
  2. Do you, your supervisors, and workers know and understand their OHS responsibilities?
  3. Have you identified workplace hazards?
  4. Have you put hazard controls into place?
  5. Do your workers have the training and supervision to perform their jobs safely?
  6. Do you regularly discuss OHS issues with your workers?
  7. Do you regularly check, service, and maintain all workplace equipment and tools?
  8. Do you have:
    • Emergency procedures?
    • First aid kits?
    • An injury reporting procedure?
  9. Do you have an investigation procedure in place?
  10. Do you maintain records and review your program?
Keep these 10 questions in mind and return to this checklist to ensure your organization is continually meeting OHS requirements.


While the WSCC is by no means a small business, the checklist above applies to us too. As industry leaders for workplace safety, we must continually ensure we maintain a strong OHS Program.

The WSCC has an Occupational Health and Safety Committee, comprised of members from across the organization, with equal representation from staff and managers. The OHS Committee meets monthly and conducts quarterly inspections around the office, during which they ask each employee whether they see any safety concerns around the office. It is the responsibility of the OHS Committee to document any safety concerns, make recommendations to address the concerns to senior management, and follow up to ensure the employer addresses the matter.

An OHS Committee allows workers to have a voice - reminding employees that they can speak up - while also helping the employer fulfill its OHS requirements under the Regulations. The Committee acts as an internal auditor, regularly monitoring the workplace so that serious accidents can be prevented.

How your OHS Committee operates depends on your business and the Regulations. Depending on the needs of your business, you can have daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly check-ins with your workers. Many construction companies have daily morning check-ins, called Toolbox Talks, during which a shift supervisor or manager takes 10 to 15 minutes to check in with their workers on any safety concerns, or to update workers on new Safe Operating Procedures (SOPs) - also known as safe work procedures. (For more information on Toolbox Talks, take a look at WSCC's video!)


Ensuring your business has a safety program is taking care of your business. The Occupational Health and Safety Program Guide for Small Businesses will step you through the process so you can maintain the program - and your workers' well-being - as part of running your business.

The OHS Regulations may seem overwhelming for a new business entering the playing field, but that's where we can help. Let our OHS Specialist and our Guide help you ensure your business has a functioning occupational health and safety plan in place.

While this Guide is geared towards small businesses, it's important to note that all businesses should review their safety programs. Check in and see if your existing program is in accordance with the Regulations.

If you have more questions and are interested in developing and implementing an OHS Program for your business, take a look at the Guide, and contact us and ask to speak to our OHS Specialist. Our OHS Specialist is also available to conduct webinars and workshops. Contact us for more details.

WSCC's offices are closed Monday, September 5 in recognition of Labour Day, and reopen at 8:30 AM on Tuesday, September 6.

To report a serious workplace injury or incident, call 1-800-661-0792.

If you have any questions or feedback for us, send us an email at or

This information will soon be available in Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun on our website.   /  1.800.661.0792   *  /  1.877.404.4407