Why report?

From a health and safety perspective, reporting hazards, incidents and injuries is a matter of prevention. The idea is to prevent accidents from happening in the first place. If one has already occurred, then the goal is to prevent it from occurring again. If a health and safety program has missed the identification of a hazard, then it could be “caught” by analyzing “near miss” reports. If “near miss” reports are not made, the only other indication that a hazard exists in the workplace is that a worker has suffered an injury or illness.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act puts the responsibility for providing a safe workplace on the employer (section 25(2)(h)). Most employers are not physically in the workplace and are unlikely to be personally knowledgeable about the hazards of the work performed. In order to effect a safety-conscious change in the workplace, the employer has to be aware that the hazards exist. By reporting hazards, incidents and injuries that have occurred in the workplace, the workers are letting their supervisors and employers know that there are unsafe conditions that exist. Written reports place the duty and obligation on the employer to address the unsafe working conditions and create a paper trail. This is important, because reporting the hazards in writing creates a greater chance that it will be addressed by the JHSC and eventually resolved.

Those reports are typically sent on to the joint health and safety committee (20 or more workers/employer) or the health and safety representative (6—19 workers/employer) so that they can investigate the incident and make recommendations to the employer on effective methods to correct the unsafe workplace conditions.

Without that paper trail, if an incident should occur and lead to injuries, the injured workers can’t prove that the employer ever knew about the hazard and failed to do everything reasonable to protect workers as mandated by law. Workers are then effectively letting the employer “off the hook” and absolving them of any responsibility for the injuries that you as a worker have suffered. Remember that most workplace injuries could have been prevented by effective health and safety programs.

What happens when you report H&S hazards?

  • It creates a paper trail;
  • It places the responsibility for addressing the hazards on the employer;
  • It creates a timeline;
  • It gives the JHSC the chance to address the issues/hazards;
  • It creates change;
  • It starts the process of protecting the workers.

Employers Reporting Obligations to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board

Employers are obligated to report injuries to the WSIB that result in…..

  • The worker needing to get medical treatment;
  • The worker requiring modified work (hours/duties) for more than 7 days;
  • The worker loses time from work/loss of earnings (beyond the day of incident/accident).

Most workplaces don’t have an effective reporting culture for many reasons.


Why Don’t Workers Report? Employer’s Role In Non-Reporting
1. Workers don’t know that they should report it.
  • Employer H&S policies are unclear.
  • Workers and supervisors are not trained in their obligations.
  • Workers are told that it’s not reportable.
  • Workers told that they’re not covered by WSIB for the injury.
2. Workers don’t know how to report.
  • Forms are not available.
  • Workers aren’t trained or informed on the workplace H&S policies and practices.
3. Workers are afraid to report.
  • Employer intimidates/coerces workers from claiming benefits or reporting hazards.
  • Employer blames workers for accidents instead of taking corrective action to solve the problem at the source.
  • Employer claims economic hardships when addressing safety concerns.
4. Workers don’t feel that there is any point in reporting.
  • Internal responsibility system (IRS) doesn’t work because the employer will not participate in JHSC activities.
  • Hazards are never addressed.
5. Workers don’t have time to do it.
  • Chronic understaffing of shifts.
  • Work assignments are overloaded.
  • Shifts are not backfilled.
  • Support is not available from supervisors.

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