Orientation

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In the workplace, orientation is the process of introducing new, inexperienced and transferred workers to the organization, their supervisors and co-workers, work areas, and jobs. It is an important process because it includes a general introduction to occupational health and safety, and through orientation workers gain knowledge of their workplace rights under health and safety legislation, understand the role of health and safety management system within a workplace, and learn how to identify job-related hazards to work safely.

No matter the size of the organization, sector or occupation, workers that need orientation include:

  • People new to the workforce
  • Young workers, under the age of 25
  • People transferred within their organization to jobs or work areas they are unfamiliar with
  • People returning from an extended period away from work
  • All workers where processes and hazards have changed or developed in the workplace
  • Workers new to the company
  • Visitors that will be on site

All workers, regardless of age or experience, have several rights to their health and safety while at work. It is especially important for employers to inform new and young workers of the following three ¬basic rights that apply to all Canadian workers:

  • The Right to Know what hazards there are in the workplace and how to prevent harm 

  • The Right to Participate in health and safety activities in the workplace without fear of getting into trouble 

  • The Right to Refuse unusually dangerous work or tasks believed to be unusually dangerous. The first step to refusing unusually dangerous work is to report the issue to the direct supervisor and the reason for refusing. This might include things like inadequate training to complete the task, broken or damaged tools, and handling dangerous or hazardous materials, among others.

The Saskatchewan Employment Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, 1996 require the employer to provide all new, inexperienced, and transferred workers with a basic health and safety orientation. Orientation must include training a worker on all matters that are necessary to ensure the health and safety of the worker at work, and must also include providing the worker with information on the specific matters set out in sub-section 19(2) of the regulations. These specific matters include:

  • procedures to be taken in the event of a fire or other emergency;
  • the location of first aid facilities;
  • identification of prohibited or restricted areas;
  • precautions to be taken for the protection of the worker from physical, chemical or biological hazards; any procedures, plans, policies, and programs that apply to the worker's work at the place of employment; and,
  • any other matters that are necessary to ensure the health and safety of the worker while the worker is at work.

General health and safety information that can be covered during the orientation can include:

  • Workplace hazards and controls
  • A review of the Safety Manual and where to find it
  • General duties of employer and worker
  • Right to know, participate, and refuse
  • What do with concerns
  • Procedure for exercising right to refuse
  • Role of worker in OHS system
  • Safety and performance evaluation
  • Harassment policy, violence policy, and other policies, programs and procedures
  • OHS program
  • Provisions of the Act and any applicable regulations
  • Location of legislation
  • Occupational Health Committees or Representative
  • Committee Bulletin Board
  • Right to contact an occupational health officer

Other workplace-specific health and safety training can include:

  • General WHMIS information
  • Reporting incidents and near misses
  • Housekeeping requirements
  • Safety Data Sheets(SDSs) and how to access them
  • Specific WHMIS training
  • Handling hazardous products
  • Handling other product;
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Emergency showers, eye wash stations
  • Smoking restrictions
  • Introduction of the worker’s “safety buddy” and
  • Specific regulations.

Employers must also provide workers with on-going training during their employment as may be needed to protect the workers’ health and safety at work. On-going training is important to:

  • remind workers about hazards in the workplace and safe work processes and other policies and procedures;
  • address changes in the workplace that may impact health and safety, such as new equipment, new policies and procedures, or changes in legislation;
  • address concerns that workers have either not understood or have failed to work in compliance with their health and safety training; and
  • provide an opportunity for workers to ask questions that may have arisen since their last training and to share their experience with co-workers.

Orientations are usually provided by supervisors and human resource personnel. On-going and more technical training is often provided by a number of sources including supervisors, managers, subject experts, suppliers, and web-based training programs. It is recommended that an employer keeps a written record of all training and orientation provided to workers.

Note: Requirements marked with ** are also valid for contractors.

As an employer you must:

  • Provide any information, instruction, training and supervision that is necessary to protect the health and safety of workers at work;
  • Make a readily available for reference by workers a copy of the Act, any applicable regulations and any standards adopted in the regulations that address work practices or procedures**;
  • Ensure that each worker is informed of the provisions of the Act and any applicable regulations;
  • Ensure that workers and supervisors are adequately trained in all matters that are necessary to protect their health, safety and welfare; and
  • Ensure that the time spent by a worker in the training required by subsection (1) is credited to the worker as the time at work, and that the worker does not lose pay or other benefits with respect to that time.
  • Ensure that no worker is permitted to perform work unless the worker has been trained, and has sufficient experience, to perform the work safely and in compliance with the Act and the regulations is under close and competent supervision;
  • Ensure that all work at a place of employment is sufficiently and competently supervised**;

Supervisor responsibilities include:

  • Instruct workers in safe work procedures.
  • Train workers for all tasks assigned to them and regularly check that they are doing their work safely. The task will determine how often checks will occur. Check daily or routine tasks more frequently than task workers perform less often.
  • Ensure that only authorized and adequately trained workers operate tools and equipment or use hazardous chemicals.

As a worker, you must:

  • Know and follow company health and safety policies, practices, and procedures that apply to the job.
  • Participate in all required health and safety education and training.

How To / Best Practices:

WorkSafe Saskatchewan’s guide, “Young and New Workers Safety Orientation,” outlines four steps in conducting an orientation session for employers:

Step 1: Evaluate the situation and determine what the worker needs to know (education) and the required competencies (training).

Step 2: Train the workers, typically using a prepared orientation checklist that covers all key topics.

Step 3: Ensure that the worker understands the training through testing (formal and informal).

Step 4: Document and maintain records of all training.  For further detail, please see the guide at:   http://publications.gov.sk.ca/details.cfm?p=69143

A checklist helps you cover all relevant sections during the orientation.

SASKATCHEWAN EMPLOYMENT ACT
S.S. 2013, c. S-15.1

Part III OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY

Section 3-8 General duties of employer

3-8. Every employer shall:

(a) ensure, insofar as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all of the employer’s workers;

(b) consult and cooperate in a timely manner with any occupational health committee or the occupational health and safety representative at the place of employment for the purpose of resolving concerns on matters of health, safety and welfare at work;

(c) make a reasonable attempt to resolve, in a timely manner, concerns raised by an occupational health committee or occupational health and safety representative pursuant to clause (b);

(d) ensure, insofar as is reasonably practicable, that the employer’s workers are not exposed to harassment with respect to any matter or circumstance arising out of the workers’ employment;

(e) cooperate with any other person exercising a duty imposed by this Part or the regulations made pursuant to this Part;

(f) ensure that:

(i) the employer’s workers are trained in all matters that are necessary to protect their health, safety and welfare; and

(ii) all work at the place of employment is sufficiently and competently supervised;

(g) if the employer is required to designate an occupational health and safety representative for a place of employment, ensure that written records of meetings with the occupational health and safety representative are kept and are readily available at the place of employment;

(h) ensure, insofar as is reasonably practicable, that the activities of the employer’s workers at a place of employment do not negatively affect the health, safety or welfare at work of the employer, other workers or any self-employed person at the place of employment; and

(i) comply with this Part and the regulations made pursuant to this Part.

Section 3-31 Right to refuse dangerous work

3-31. A worker may refuse to perform any particular act or series of acts at a place of employment if the worker has reasonable grounds to believe that the act or series of acts is unusually dangerous to the worker’s health or safety or the health or safety of any other person at the place of employment until:

(a) sufficient steps have been taken to satisfy the worker otherwise; or

(b) the occupational health committee has investigated the matter and advised the worker otherwise.

Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, 1996
S.S., c. O-1.1, Reg 1

Part III General Duties

Section 12 General duties of employers

12. The duties of an employer at a place of employment include:

(a) the provision and maintenance of plant, systems of work and working environments that ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of the employer's workers;

(b) arrangements for the use, handling, storage and transport of articles and substances in a manner that protects the health and safety of workers;

(c) the provision of any information, instruction, training and supervision that is necessary to protect the health and safety of workers at work; and

(d) the provision and maintenance of a safe means of entrance to and exit from the place of employment and all worksites and work-related areas in or on the place of employment.

Section 15 Duty of employer or contractor to provide information

15. An employer or contractor shall:

(a) make readily available for reference by workers a copy of:

(i) the Act;

(ii) any regulations made pursuant to the Act that apply to the place of employment or to any work done there; and

(iii) any standards adopted in the regulations that address work practices or procedures and that apply to the place of employment or to any work done there; and

(b) where the information mentioned in clause (a) or insection 9 of the Act will be posted, provide a suitable bulletin board to be used primarily to post information on health and safety related to the place of employment.

Section 17 Supervision of work

17. (1) An employer or contractor shall ensure that:

(a) all work at a place of employment is sufficiently and competently supervised;

(b) supervisors have sufficient knowledge of all of the following with respect to matters that are within the scope of the supervisor's responsibility:

(i) the Act and any regulations made pursuant to the Act that apply to the place of employment;

(ii) any occupational health and safety program at the place of employment;

(iii) the safe handling, use, storage, production and disposal of chemical and biological substances;

(iv) the need for, and safe use of, personal protective equipment;

(v) emergency procedures required by these regulations;

(vi) any other matters that are necessary to ensure the health and safety of workers under their direction; and

(c) supervisors comply with the Act and any regulations made pursuant to the Act that apply to the place of employment and ensure that the workers under their direction comply with the Act and those regulations.

(2) A supervisor shall ensure that the workers under the supervisor's direction comply with the Act and any regulations made pursuant to the Act that apply to the place of employment.

Section 18 Duty to inform workers

18. An employer shall ensure that each worker:

(a) is informed of the provisions of the Act and any regulations pursuant to the Act that apply to the worker's work at the place of employment; and

(b) complies with the Act and those regulations.

Section 19 Training of workers

19. (1) An employer shall ensure that a worker is trained in all matters that are necessary to protect the health and safety of the worker when the worker:

(a) begins work at a place of employment; or

(b) is moved from one work activity or worksite to another that differs with respect to hazards, facilities or procedures.

(2) The training required by subsection (1) must include:

(a) procedures to be taken in the event of a fire or other emergency;

(b) the location of first aid facilities;

(c) identification of prohibited or restricted areas;

(d) precautions to be taken for the protection of the worker from physical, chemical or biological hazards;

(e) any procedures, plans, policies and programs that the employer is required to develop pursuant to the Act or any regulations made pursuant to the Act that apply to the worker's work at the place of employment; and

(f) any other matters that are necessary to ensure the health and safety of the worker while the worker is at work.

(3) An employer shall ensure that the time spent by a worker in the training required by subsection (1) is credited to the worker as time at work, and that the worker does not lose pay or other benefits with respect to that time.

(4) An employer shall ensure that no worker is permitted to perform work unless the worker:

(a) has been trained, and has sufficient experience, to perform the work safely and in compliance with the Act and the regulations; or

(b) is under close and competent supervision.