Preventing workplace injuries is the responsibility of both the employer and the employee. In legal parlance, this is called duty of care. For the employers, it is their responsibility to take all the necessary steps to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of their employees. Business owners must not view this as a legal duty but as a business case as well. For employers, showing duty of care helps build and reinforce their trust and commitment to employees. Likewise, it helps improve staff retention, boost productivity, and greater employee engagement.
While the employers put the policies and guidelines in place, it is the job of the employee, on the other hand, to follow the practices, participate in the training and report hazards. Under the law, employees have the right to refuse work that will undermine their safety without fear of disciplinary action.
Employers are also legally bound to abide by relevant health & safety and employment laws as well as the common law duty of care. They also have the moral and ethical duty not to cause or fail to prevent, physical or psychological injury which they must fulfill to prevent personal injury and negligence claims. An employer is guilty of violating their duty of care once they fail to do everything reasonable in the circumstances to keep their employees safe from harm.
The Occupational Health & Safety Act and Regulations outlines the different safety requirements that all businesses must meet for the sake of their employees. Here is a partial list of an employer’s duty of care to their employees:
- Ensure that the workplace is free from serious recognizable hazards and complies with standards, rules, and regulations based on the OS & H Act
- Make sure that workplace conditions conforms with applicable OSHA standards
- Provide safe tools and equipment and ensure that employees use and properly maintain them
- Establish color coded posters, signs, or labels to warn employees of potential hazards
- Maintain or update operating procedures and inform employees so they can follow safety and health requirements
- Provide employers with safety training in an understandable language
- Implement a written hazard communication program and train employees on proper precautions about exposure to hazards
Here are some of the workers’ responsibilities as laid down in the Occupational Health & Safety Act and Regulations:
- Protect their own safety and health as well as of their co-employees
- Work hand in hand with their employers on safety and health concerns
- Inform their employers about any workplace situation that could be hazardous to them
- Follow the provided safety instructions and training
- Properly use and maintain safety equipment and devices
Employees rights as provided for in the Occupational Health & Safety Act:
- Be informed about workplace hazards
- Take part and assist in determining and solving health & safety issues
- Refuse unsafe work
According to the website of LaMarca Law Group, P.C. despite these standards being in place, workplace injuries are still a common occurrence in American companies. Employees must be vigilant in safeguarding their health and safety in their workplace to prevent accidents from happening.Read More