It can become a habit to consider your workplace simply as an environment in which you are the active participant, and it is the passive, silent backdrop. For many of us, a workday involves showing up, carrying out our allocated tasks, and pocketing the paycheck at the end of the month. In some instances, you may be lucky; your boss may offer great benefits, a robust and generous insurance policy, and a range of freebies that enhance your life. In many other circumstances, however, few of us consider the obligations and responsibilities that our workplace has toward us until something happens.
What Obligations Does My Workplace Have?
It may come as a surprise to learn that your workplace has specific legal obligations and requirements which must be met to keep employees safe. If these are breached, there are actions available to employees, which can help to ease financial concerns. All workers have the right to a safe working environment, free from any hazards, which also complies with all rules and regulations issued under the OSH (Occupational Health and Safety) Act.
This includes ensuring that the physical working environment itself is safe, with no exposed wires, trip hazards, or dangerous areas that could cause an accident. In addition, any tools or equipment that the employees use must be maintained and safe, free from hazards, and up to recognized industry standards. Staff must also be adequately trained to use any specialist equipment, including chemicals, if they are part of the job.
Signage is also important. All workplaces must have clear signs and warning labels if there is a potential hazard. They have a responsibility to ensure that this information is available to all workers, regardless of reading ability or language barriers—for example, by using internationally recognized symbols and images or by conducting training in a language that can be accessed and understood by workers.
All workplaces should also have a clearly labeled Health and Safety plan, which outlines the steps they take to protect their employees and secure a safe working environment.
What If an Accident Happens?
The law states that all accidents and incidents should be logged and recorded in the workplace accident book. In addition, employers have another obligation to consider workers’ compensation insurance.
Workers’ compensation is a benefit that offers financial support and assistance to employees if they are unable to work due to a work-related illness or injury. It is used to cover essentials, such as medical bills and expenses, loss of wages, reduced earning capacity if the worker is forced to accept a lower-paid position or have earnings restricted due to an accident. In essence, this is an insurance policy designed to protect both employer and employee and ensure that the latter is financially protected in the event of an injury.