April 6, 2021
Building a stronger safety culture
By Rod Cook
Vice President, Workplace Health and Safety Services, WSIB

I was on a video call with a friend the other day, talking about the pandemic and some of the things we miss. Knowing my role at the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) and my passion for workplace safety, my friend apologized before jokingly saying: “I even miss trying to dodge fire drills at work.” I politely laughed and only half-jokingly suggested that his employer give me a call to chat about workplace health and safety.

That exchange got me thinking about the difference between having a workplace health and safety plan, and having a strong workplace safety culture.

What is “safety culture”?

Your workplace safety culture and your health and safety plan are different, but they’re closely tied together. For example, my friend’s employer clearly has some type of plan in place — at least an emergency response plan — because they’re running a fire drill. The fact that my friend actively avoids fire drills tells me the business’ safety culture has room to improve; that there’s more to do to help employees actively engage in the practices that will keep them safe at work.

Strong safety cultures can’t exist without a strong awareness of your health and safety efforts. Sharing that plan and encouraging employees to take ownership of it and participate in health and safety is what contributes to your safety culture. A strong safety culture means your health and safety plan is more successful, that your employees are more comfortable talking about safety issues, and that they’re more engaged in their own workplace health and safety. It means health and safety is living and breathing within your organization.

Developing a safety culture, let alone a health and safety plan, can be challenging for many businesses dealing with seasonal staff, multiple locations and time sensitive projects.

WSIB understands that workplace health and safety isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. Your landscaping business has inherent safety risks that are unique. So, we’ve created a comprehensive, customizable program to help you protect your employees, ensure customer safety and ultimately safeguard your business — we call it the Health and Safety Excellence program.

As a part of the program offerings, we’ve included a culture survey that will give you a snapshot of how your employees perceive health and safety in your business. The survey is free as part of the program and your employees’ responses are completely anonymous. From experience, we know that having an accurate picture of your safety culture will help identify trouble spots and areas of potential growth. As a member of the program, you can use it over time to measure the impact of changes you’ve made, and gauge the strength of your safety culture.

Earn rebates and reduce premiums

We’ve recruited dedicated health and safety experts to deliver the Health and Safety Excellence program. They’ll work with you to identify any gaps in your workplace safety plan and opportunities to strengthen your safety culture, and they can then help you learn about the topics that will help you fill those gaps.  

Once you’ve finished learning about a topic and can demonstrate that your new health and safety practice has been integrated into your business, you can earn a rebate of anywhere from $1,000 up to 75 per cent of your annual premium. Your new safety practices might help you to reduce your future premium amounts, too, because improved safety records can help reduce your annual premium.   

We’ll also give you a digital safety badge you can use on your website, email signatures or on your estimates to show customers and employees how important their safety is to you and how committed you are to protecting them.

Studies have shown that employees who feel supported, protected, and involved in workplace health and safety are more satisfied with their work and are more productive, so creating a strong safety culture makes good business sense.

To learn more about the Health and Safety Excellence program and how it can work for your business, visit wsib.ca/en/healthandsafety or sign up for an info session or email healthandsafetyexcellence@wsib.on.ca.

Ask the WSIB

What should I do if one of my employees is injured at work?

When an employee is injured at work, you need to:    
  • Provide first aid if possible, and keep a record of the treatment provided. If they need medical attention, pay the cost of transportation or give them a ride to the hospital.
  • Investigate and keep a detailed record of what happened, and the steps you took to correct the issue.
  • Report the injury or illness by filling out and sending the WSIB a Form 7 within three days of learning of the incident.
  • Get in touch with your employee as soon as possible after the injury or illness and stay in touch with your employee throughout their recovery and return to work.
  • When they’re ready to return to work, you need to try to provide suitable work that’s safe, productive, and something they’re able to do, until they’re able to go back to their pre-injury job.
  • If they can’t perform the  essential duties of their pre-injury job, please reach out to the WSIB to discuss.

Do you have a health and safety related question?
Email rob@landscapeontario.com and our experts will answer
your questions. Your name will not appear in print to protect your privacy.