Small and medium businesses OHS challenges during the new normal

Small and medium businesses OHS reopening challenges under the new normal

A strong health and safety (H&S) program is now, more than ever, a necessity for every Ontario business including small and medium sizes businesses (SMEs). The pandemic has clearly highlighted the need for SMEs to invest into workplace health and safety. 

In the new normal, SMEs need to get their operations back in order while focusing on survival. You will need to retrain new staff due to employee turnover.

You will need time to normalize operations, let alone managing some of the other requirements of running a small business. Resilience will be a key factor. SMEs will need support and guidance during reopening.

Invest in workplace safety and get the competitive edge – health and safety pays back

A strong health and safety (H&S) program is now, more than ever, a necessity for every Ontario business including small and medium sizes businesses (SMEs). The pandemic has clearly highlighted the need for SMEs to invest into workplace health and safety.

Benefits of a strong H&S program for small and medium businesses:

Reduced organizational risk:

In the realm of health and safety in Ontario you are always “guilty of an infraction and then must prove your innocence”. A robust health and safety program can put you well on your way to compliance

“A European study showed that for every $1.00 invested in health and safety there is a $2.20 return on the investment.”

 – Adrian Varao, SME Program Manager for 4S

Improved employee motivation:

A well-defined H&S system instills confidence and increases productivity, quality, and innovation. Injury prevention increases feelings of safety and security that will promote well-being and positivity in the workplace and at home. An engaged workforce is often a happy workforce.

Enhanced competitiveness:

A strong H&S program can save you money. More importantly, it can now make you money. The costs of poor health and safety are expensive, which includes fines for non-compliance with safety laws, business disruptions due to workplace incidents, turnover, and lost time due to injuries. Investing in health and safety will help you reduce or eliminate those costs.

What is 4SafeSME™ program? How does it help you with WSIB Excellence?

4SafeSME™ program provides SMEs with the opportunity to build on their Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS). Moreover, it helps SMEs optimize their OHSMS effectively through WSIB’s H&S Excellence program. 4S is a WSIB approved provider of the Health & Safety Excellence Program (HSEp). 4S has demonstrated a high success rate to date in helping its clients achieve the successful implementation of five health and safety topics.

Our SME Support model will help you identify gaps in your existing program through a risk assessment, making safety compliance easy & not overwhelming. It saves internal resource bandwidth & ensures maximization of your annual WSIB rebates with a sustainable OHSMS.

How our 3-pillar approach supports you?

Our “three-pillar” approach of consulting, training, and the utilization of our proprietary OHSMS software system, 4SafeCom™ to assist you in the collection and archiving of evidence required for HSEp has been a great success to date.

The biggest advantage with the 4S model is that training, consulting, and safety technology are all available through a single source. You need not look outside for additional support. We start with a risk assessment and use that a strong building block for your program.

Our team of ISO 45001:2018 Lead Auditors, IHSA External COR Auditors, and experienced consultants will always guide, mentor, and support your team to help you build a strong OHSMS. Managing employees’ health and safety can be a daunting task for SMEs. Some of the main challenges of initiating a health and safety program include:

Lack of human resources:

Hiring a full time H&S resource is not a feasible option for SMEs.

Lack of time:

Undertaking a H&S program requires resource time.

Lack of knowhow or skill sets:

It’s challenging to properly identify & address compliance gaps and/or mitigate risks hazardous to their staff.

4SafeSME™ support program for small and medium businesses

Guidance and support for WSIB Excellence topics

As a small business owner, the idea of occupational health and safety management system can seem very overwhelming and costly. The integration of the WSIB HSEp allows 4S to work with you in focusing on only five key areas of an OHSMS which are referred to as ‘Topics’.

The initial stage of our process is a ‘Topic Selection Meeting’ to ensure that you choose five topics that will support your business in reducing risks and making your workplace safer. With the support of 4S, you will fully implement five components of your program in a given year that will directly impact your ability to reduce health and safety risks in the workplace while helping you drive down your WSIB claims and concurrently earn up to a 10% rebate on your annual WSIB premiums.

Program orientation and periodic meetings

Our service provides you a group or 1-on-1 program orientation where we go over the purpose of the WSIB program and how our SME service model will assist you with the success of your program. We will introduce you to the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle and provide guidance on the utilization of this methodology to ensure success with the implementation of your topics.

We also offer two separate packages that will provide you regular 1-on-1 meetings to continuously coach you and together monitor your progression to ensure that you stay on track. A Quarterly or Bi-monthly meeting schedule is available. Unlike some other HSEp providers, we don’t simply initiate contact at the beginning of the action plan and then wait for your evidence submission. We’d rather increase the chances of success by walking you through the progress of your topic implementation.

Job Hazard Assessments and Safe Job Procedures

4S will assist you with the recognition, assessment, and development of controls for your workplace hazards. This process entails coming to your workplace to gather intel and assess & evaluate your tasks. This will help us determine existing hazards in the workplace, risk of exposure, probability of harm, and severity of injury the hazards can cause.

Once these JHA tasks are complete, we then provide you with SWPs/SJPs for any critical tasks identified as part of this hazard assessment. These will be used for instruction, communication, and training purposes to ensure that your affected staff are aware of the workplace hazards and what they must do to ensure their safety.

Workplace violence risk assessment

As per the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act, we will conduct a workplace violence risk assessment of your business. This will involve a thorough walkthrough of your workplace and determining what violence risk factors are most prevalent by conducting staff interviews. This will enable 4S to determine, which Safe Procedures are required for your business to address the risk of violence.

Policies, procedures, forms, checklists

4S will provide any relevant and required documentation to ensure successful implementation of your five chosen HSEp topics. This includes policies and procedures specific to each topic that will meet all compliance and HSEp topic guide requirements as well as adhere to best practices by utilizing standards such as ISO 45001 and COR™ as benchmarks for the development of these documents.

Any topic/s where forms, inspection forms, or checklists are required, we will develop & tailor them to your business needs. We will develop topic evaluation tools to assist you. We will provide 1-on-1 coaching to ensure that this important step of the PDCA cycle is successfully completed to meet the HSEp requirements.

Employee access to 4SafeCom™, our proprietary online safety management system

4SafeCom™ provides SMEs with access to 100+ online training courses with some offered in six different languages. You can easily assign and track employee training, address pending action items identified through the evaluation phase of the program.

You can easily upload and complete online forms & access records that are great pieces of evidence to support your WSIB HSEp submission. Other benefits include easy record management, ability to assign policies, procedures, JHAs, SJPs to staff for easy tracking of acknowledgement.

Validation review of all topic submissions and evidence story development

Throughout this process, 4S will support you with the development and the implementation of your live action plan for each topic. This plan will be written through the lens of an evidence story as required by WSIB HSEp. 4S will assist you in initiating each topic’s evidence story. We will support you in telling your story to ensure a high quality submission to the WSIB. An evidence story aid specific to each topic will be provided to guide you through this storytelling process with 4S acting as your editor and proof reader.

Finally, 4S will conduct a validation review of all your topic submissions. 4S will review your evidence and evidence stories to ensure that they meet the WSIB topic guide requirements. Furthermore, we will guide you through the submission process.

How does our program support SMEs during the new normal?

The 4SafeSME™ program offers the support that small and medium sized businesses need at this critical stage.

That will allow you to focus on what you do best, manage your business while allowing an OHS expert such as 4S to support you in integrating those required safety measures necessary to keep businesses operating during a pandemic and your staff safe.

Remember, with WSIB’s HSEp being part of the 4SafeSME™ program, safety becomes your investment.



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