Volume 12, Number 9 January 7, 2005

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New policy & course spread message that all have responsibility for safety

The University has taken two major steps in the past couple of months to improve safety on campus and ensure it is carrying out its legal responsibility to be diligent about the safety of campus employees.

In December the Board of Governors approved a new Workplace Responsibility System that details the responsibilities of everyone on campus – from Board members and the President through to deans, supervisors and students – when it comes to ensuring safety.

Tony Whitworth, Vice-President of Finance & Resources, says recent Canadian Criminal Code changes make employees and supervisors not only civilly liable for breaches of safety causing injury or damage, but now also criminally responsible for serious injury or loss of life.

Whitworth says the new campus responsibility system “is an attempt to jolt people and tell them they have to be aware and concerned about this.”

The Board was told the Workplace Responsibility System will not only help to educate everyone about their duties to promote safety, it will also reduce the liability of the University and all levels of managers, and will help to integrate health and safety functions into ongoing college and department activities.

Clear outlines of manager and employee responsibility like this are being adopted by other Canadian, British and American universities.

In a related action, the Department of Health, Safety & Environment (DHSE) has developed a new Supervisor Safety Course and has begun delivering it to supervisors in the four areas on campus with the highest rates of injuries.

Occupational Safety Manager Fulton Briand developed the two-hour course recently, after DHSE became aware that the University has a relatively high rate of workplace injury in some areas.

He began offering the course in November to supervisors in Facilities Management Division, the Vet-Med College, Food Services and Residences. By mid-December, Briand estimates about 45 supervisors had taken the course.

“It has been received pretty positively,” he says.

The course covers legal regulations and responsibilities, U of S safety policies, supervisor’s duties, safety incidents and inspection forms, and other resources that are available.

Briand says the main aim of the course is to let supervisors know their role and help them eliminate hazardous conditions – thus reducing the injury rate.

“Some supervisors have told me that when they were hired they were not aware they had any health and safety responsibilities,” Briand says.

With the new Workplace Responsibility System and DHSE’s new Supervisor Safety Course, the University wants all employees to realize they each have some responsibility for safety.

For more information, contact communications.office@usask.ca

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