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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Free resources simplify health and safety for small businesses

Small businesses – those with less than 50 employees – make up the majority of businesses operating in Ontario. Any health and safety infraction resulting in lost-time injuries or fines could mean a major set-back to their success. If an incident occurs at one of these businesses that results in a critical injury or fatality, it could even force them to shut down. Yet, many small business owners feel that they don’t have enough time or knowledge to proactively inspect their workplaces and assess hazards.

“Small business owners are focused on building their business and managing day-to-day operations. They are pulled in many directions. It’s not as though they have someone whose job is dedicated to health and safety, as most large organizations do,” says Pamela Patry, Health and Safety Consultant with WSPS.

But the good news is that health and safety doesn’t have to be complicated. And two new WSPS resources – the Health and Safety Handbook Generator and Small Biz Bytes video series – make it easier for small business owners to meet their legislative requirements and proactively address hazards.

Pamela was part of the team that developed the new free resources to address the health and safety needs of small business owners and believes it makes health and safety a lot more accessible for small businesses in Ontario. “These new resources give small business owners what they need to be efficient and effective.”

New customizable Health and Safety Handbook Generator makes training easier

Health and safety templates and sample policies have been available to small businesses for quite some time, allowing business owners to use these templates as a starting point to build their health and safety policy and program. So what makes this new resource different?

“Templates are great for general information, but you still have to customize them with business-specific information that is directly related to your workplace and the type of work you do,” says Pamela. A certain level of knowledge and familiarity with health and safety legislation is required to know what type of policies and procedures you need to have in place. The Health and Safety Handbook Generator takes the guesswork out of this.

“One of the great things about the Health and Safety Handbook Generator is that it’s not just giving you general information and leaving it up to you to figure out what you need. It asks you questions about your business, your employees, and the type of work they do, and then uses that information to generate a site-specific handbook,” says Pamela. “It’s about your employees and your company.” And it does all of this in about 20 minutes.

Pamela points out that the handbook is an ideal resource to use when training employees or onboarding new hires. It provides something concrete that you can give to employees, outlining potential hazards, procedures, and controls.

Use these short videos to understand legal obligations for small business

To help small business owners educate themselves and become more informed about health and safety hazards, the Small Biz Bytes video series breaks down key topics into short, three- to five-minute videos. “These videos are a quick and effective way for small business owners to learn about their legal obligations,” says Pamela. Video topics range from chemical safety and agriculture safety, to workplace violence and harassment and joint health and safety committees.

Each video connects to resources and other documents that small business owners can use to make sure they are meeting their obligations. “For example, we have a short video explaining when and how to do workplace inspections. It links directly to an inspection checklist. So, it gives you what you need to apply what you have learned,” she says. “You don’t have to go looking for it or create something yourself.”

“Small business owners aren’t expected to be health and safety experts. These resources are here to give them what they need and make it easy. We don’t expect them to do it on their own,” says Pamela.

How WSPS can help


Visit WSPS’ Small Business Centre for free tools and resources, including the Health and Safety Handbook Generator and Small Biz Bytes knowledge check videos.

Free Webinar

Safety Connection: Managing safety without a safety department – June 11, 2024


Small Biz Safety Podcast – Run a small business? Let our safety experts walk you through simple steps to make your workplace safer and your business better in 20 minutes or less.

The information in this article is accurate as of its publication date.

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Categorized in: WSPS