Your work environment has a tremendous influence on your
physical, social and mental well-being. Just think – in a typical week, you may
spend up to 10 or more hours a day working and commuting. You probably spend
more time at work than you do at home or with your family!
A safe workplace – it’s all about you!
Because so much of your day revolves around work, it’s important that your
workplace is safe. The Peel board cares about the well-being of its staff and
students and is committed to building an organizational culture that supports
In Ontario, workplace safety is governed by the
Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). OHSA protects workers against
health and safety hazards on the job and outlines the rights and
responsibilities of every person in the workplace.
Recognizing that a safe workplace requires a strong partnership between employer
and worker, the act encourages organizations to adopt a concept of shared
responsibility, known as the Internal Responsibility System (IRS).
What is the IRS?
The IRS gives everyone within an organization direct responsibility for health
and safety – it becomes an essential part of every job. Each individual is
responsible for achieving health and safety in a way that suits the kind of work
that he or she does.
The goal of an effective IRS is to get people involved in identifying and
controlling hazards before they can cause harm. Everyone is expected to take the
initiative on health and safety issues and to work towards solving problems and
making improvements on an ongoing basis. People may do this on their own or by
working co-operatively with others.
While the IRS concept supports shared responsibility for a safe and healthy
workplace, it also recognizes that this responsibility may be limited by each
person’s level of authority and ability. For example, an employer would have
more responsibility for workplace health and safety than an employee – and an
employee would have more responsibility than a supplier.
When the IRS is implemented successfully, it usually results in a reduction of
work-related accidents and illnesses. Find out more about the
keys to a successful IRS.
Your basic rights
The act also establishes four basic rights for
everyone in the workplace:
The right to know – You have a right to information on issues
that affect your health and safety. This includes the right to be trained and to
have information on machinery, equipment, working conditions, processes and
The right to participate – You have a right to be involved in
the process of identifying and resolving workplace health and safety concerns.
This right is expressed by worker representation on health and safety committees
or through health and safety representatives. You also have the right to report
conditions that you believe are unsafe.
The right to refuse work – You have a right to refuse work that
you believe is dangerous, either to your own health and safety or to the health
and safety of another worker.
The right to stop work – Under certain circumstances, certified
Joint Health and Safety Committee members can stop work that is dangerous.
In addition to these basic rights, the act also specifies the rights and
responsibilities of employers,
supervisors, workers, and
A safe work environment:
|•||meets or exceeds current health and
safety legislation and directives
|•||manages general conditions and ensures
cleanliness and safety
|•||manages the various aspects of
occupational hygiene, including lighting, indoor air quality and noise
|•||ensures that employees understand the
emergency systems provided in each worksite
|•||establishes strategies to address the
potential risk of violence at the workplace
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