Policies in occupational health and safety and return to work
All employers are required to have workplace policies governing occupational health and safety and early and safe return to work. You can write two separate policies, or combine them into one. The policy(ies) must:
- Be posted at all workplaces (physically and/or electronically)
- Be signed by the highest level of management, or designate
- Be dated, reviewed every year and updated as required
Your occupational health and safety (OH&S) policy must:
Your return-to-work policy must:
- Be written in consultation with your health and safety committee and/or representative/designate, depending on your requirements (see Practice Incentive criteria #2 for details)
- State your health and safety related goals
- State the activities required to support these goals and the roles and responsibilities needed to ensure the activities are implemented
- State the employer’s commitment to OH&S
- Be communicated to all workers
- State your commitment to early and safe return to work after an accident or injury
- Refer to communicating with the worker during the return-to-work process
- Refer to Section 89 of the WHSC Act, which states that employers and workers must co-operate with each other and the Commission in early and safe return to work
- State your commitment to protecting confidential information
- Outline roles and responsibilities of the parties involved in return to work (employer, injured worker, co-workers, union, return-to-work representatives, etc.)
- Refer to Hierarchy of Return to Work according to the Commission’s Policy RE-18, which enables progressive return to the pre-injury job.
Employers who regularly employ 20 or more workers have a re-employment obligation and a duty to accommodate injured workers with whom they have a 12-month continuous employment relationship prior to the work-related injury. These employers must reflect that obligation, which is stated in Section 89.1 of the WHSC Act, in their policy.
For large employers, the return-to-work policy must be developed in joint and meaningful consultation with workers.
Sample policies are available for download here.
Practice Incentive criteria #1 is a requirement for all employers.
Your checklist for this criteria: If you can answer “yes” to the following questions and can present evidence to support your responses in an audit, you have met Practice Incentive criteria #1.
- Do you have a policy statement(s) that is signed and dated by the highest-ranking official?
- Does your statement identify the roles and responsibilities of the people involved?
- Is the statement posted in a prominent place in the workplace?