Occupational health and safety is very much a workplace-specific process because workers and workplaces are so different, even within similar work sectors. In order to start fixing problems, matters relating to health and safety must be “custom-fitted” to the workplace. In most CUPE workplaces (more than 20 workers for the employer), that custom-fit is called the Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC). (Employers with less than 20 but more than 5 workers will have a Health and Safety Representative.) This Committee has worker-selected worker representatives and management representatives that come together to make recommendations to the employer on how to make the work, the workers and the workplace safe and healthy.
It’s very important to note that reports of unsafe working conditions should always be made in writing for the following reasons:
- It creates a record of the unsafe conditions;
- It creates a record of the who reported the condition and when and to whom the report was made;
- It standardizes the information that needs to be collected;
- It starts the process of addressing the unsafe working conditions.
Your employer, by law, is required to have a health and safety policy and a program to implement it in your workplace. That means that there will be a process set out on exactly how you report health and safety issues in your workplace– here will be a form for you to use. You can also bring these issues up to the worker representative that does the monthly workplace inspections. The name of your JHSC members are to be posted in your workplace, and it’s good practice to have the minutes of the JHSC meetings.
Always let your CUPE Local Executive members know that you’ve reported unsafe working conditions; they can direct you to the JHSC worker representatives that represent you in your workplace. Doing this ensures that the issues get addressed in a timely manner and that it doesn’t fall through the cracks that sometimes appear in the system when everyone is trying to do more with less.
Don’t let your supervisor tell you that you don’t need to fill out a report because they are about to address the problem. You should still fill it out. If the problem gets fixed, the JHSC will record how and when the problem was resolved. Keep in mind that sometimes, the first fix doesn’t solve the problem and having a record of what has already been tried can speed up the process to successfully fixing the problem.
Who can report to the WSIB?
- A Worker (Worker’s Report of Injury/Disease FORM 6)
- An Employer (Employer’s Report of Injury/Disease FORM 7)
- A Health Professional (Health Professional’s Report FORM 8)
- A Worker (Worker’s Exposure Incident Reporting Form – PEIR)
Occupational Injury and Disease:
It is important to report all injuries, occupational disease and workplace exposure to chemical, biohazard or other harmful substances as soon as possible following the incident, exposure or knowledge of occupational disease.
Workplace Safety and Insurance Board reporting forms and other resources are available online at www.wsib.on.ca
If you have any questions or concerns regarding health and safety or worker compensation, you can access the CUPE resources available to you by contacting your CUPE Local Executive members and/or National Representative for more information. More information is available on the CUPE National health and safety page.