Whether you’re just starting to put formal health and safety procedures in place, or you already have a robust health and safety management system, you may want to consider SOSE recognition.
SOSE – Supporting Ontario’s Safe Employers – is a voluntary Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development program run by the Chief Prevention Officer (CPO). It promotes health and safety in the workplace and helps reduce injuries and illness. It also recognizes the work of organizations that have strong occupational health and safety management systems (OHSMS).
When a functional OHSMS is in place, the risk of occupational injury and illness is significantly reduced. WSPS, which is certified to the ISO 45001 Standard for Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems, recently earned SOSE recognition by meeting the requirements set out by the CPO. “We achieved certification to the standard in March 2022 and then applied for SOSE shortly after,” says Rishma Brenner, Specialized Services Lead for WSPS. “The OHSMS standard certification is the hard part,” she says. “Once you have that, there’s no reason not to apply for SOSE recognition.”
Why is an OHSMS so important?
“An occupational health and safety management system is the package for everything you do with respect to health and safety within an organization,” says Rishma. “Essentially, it’s a set of procedures and processes that can be implemented in any type of business and can be scaled up or scaled down, depending on the size of the business.”
Most businesses ensure that their employees complete the necessary health and safety training, have safety meetings, and even have documented procedures. These are all great things and they set up the workplace for success; however, without an active OHSMS, you may miss some key components. “An OHSMS brings consistency and transparency to health and safety programs,” says Rishma. “The information doesn’t reside with one employee or one department.”
Rishma also explains that evaluation is a key component of an OHSMS. “Most OHSMS follow the Plan – Do – Check – Act framework, which is a proven methodology for continuous improvement,” says Rishma. Often, workplaces develop their health and safety plans and execute them, but that’s as far as they go. Rishma emphasizes the importance of regularly evaluating the effectiveness of your health and safety activities and making changes when necessary. This cycle is usually built into an OHSMS and all levels of the organization are involved.
How to get recognized with SOSE
- Choose a health and safety management standard. The MLITSD website lists the occupational health and safety management systems that it recognizes. Choose the one that best fits your workplace. “At WSPS, we’re certified to ISO 45001 because it made the most sense for our business,” says Rishma. Some of the other accredited standards include CSA Z45001 and IHSA’s COR™2020.
- Implement an Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS). Implement an OHSMS to bring a systematic framework to your health and safety program. If you’re in the early stages of development, the WSIB’s Health and Safety Excellence program is a good way to build your program while earning rebates. “Management commitment and involvement from everyone in the organization at all levels is critical to success ” says Rishma.
- Verify that your OHSMS meets the requirements of the standard through a third-party audit. Regardless of which standard you choose to adopt, you need to conduct a third-party audit every three years. This audit is usually performed by a Registrar that has met the requirements of the certifying body for each standard. “You need to complete an external audit to earn your certificate. Any deficiencies identified during the audit need to be addressed prior to the certificate being awarded. And you need your certificate to apply for Employer Recognition under SOSE,” explains Rishma.
- Apply to the CPO for SOSE recognition and enjoy the rewards. Complete the application process for SOSE and if your application is approved, you may be eligible to receive a financial reward from WSIB along with public recognition on the CPO’s website. Financial rebates are based on your premiums, your claims experience and which year of the SOSE program you are in.
How WSPS Can Help
Management Systems – An Introduction (classroom, 3.5 hours)
Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems (eCourse, 2 hours)
JHSC Certification Part 1 (classroom, 3 days; eCourse 2 days)
Health and Safety for Managers and Supervisors (eCourse, 7 hours)
Accident Investigation (eCourse, 1 hour)