Broadly speaking, an Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) program is a definite plan of action designed to prevent accidents and occupational diseases. In Saskatchewan, legislation states that employers must take every reasonable precaution to ensure that workers are safe and ensure that worksites are safe for workers. This legislation is aimed at protecting workers from various accident and injuries at work and would be a considered a good practice under a number of international guides and standards such as article 32(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Poor practices in occupational health and safety increase the cost of, and risk to every construction project. As an example, in Saskatchewan the construction industry loses approximately one person per month to Asbestos-related illness. Each of these asbestos-related deaths results in direct costs to the Saskatchewan Worker’s Compensation Board of $250,000. Many of these deaths and costs are preventable. One must wonder what the benefit to businesses and the community would be without the burden of these losses.
Effective OHS programs guard against the direct costs of health and safety failures as well as legal, regulatory, and reputational risk. A fully implemented OHS program such as COR® issued by members of the Canadian Federation of Construction Safety Associations (CFCSA) enables retention and growth of human capital. Independent research into COR® conducted by the University of British Columbia School of Population and Public Health show that the program is associated with lower injury rates in Alberta and British Columbia. A similar study is in progress for the construction industry in Saskatchewan and is expected to show a meaningful impact on injury reduction.
As the Saskatchewan Construction Safety Association (SCSA) and its partners work to improve the availability of data to construction company owners through a number of in-flight projects, currently available information suggests that to prevent the destruction of financial and human capital every investor and project owner in the construction industry should factor a COR® or equivalent certification into every investment, partnership, and procurement decision. Apart from risk reduction, a strong safety program can also be viewed as an indicator of an exemplary management team as strong safety programs often correlate with excellent long-term thinking and clear vision.
To understand if a company has obtained COR®, please visit SCSAonline.ca to view a real time list of certified companies.