National Intervention Model - Promoting Healthier and Safer Workplaces

Exerpt from the Workplace Gazette, Vol. 7, No. 3, Fall 2004

Labour Program Communications
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

The Labour Program continues to work at the leading edge of occupational health and safety by creating in the last year a National Intervention Model to promote healthier and safer workplaces in the federal jurisdiction.

Amendments to Part II of the Canada Labour Code - the part that deals with Occupational Health and Safety - came into effect in 2000. An important underlying principle of these changes was to further enhance internal responsibility for health and safety in the workplace and to encourage a higher level of voluntary compliance with the Code.

With this objective in mind, the Labour Program decided to look at what others in Canada and abroad were doing in the area of planned intervention strategies. The findings included:

  • inspection of worksites is one of the most effective interventions;
  • better prevention results are achieved by focusing on employers and worksites at higher risk of work injuries within a given industrial sector; and
  • the risk of work injuries is usually defined using indicators such as frequency rate, incidence rate, prevalence rate and severity index associated with workplace injuries.

These findings lead to the development of the National Intervention Model, a process that assesses components of occupational health and safety in workplaces and provides the framework to improve any deficiencies identified.

The Model was initially used as a pilot project by four regions. Subsequently, a single National Intervention Model was developed to provide a reliable and consistent approach across the country.

The Intervention Model is a six-step process:

Selection of Employer - The Labour Program has a reliable and transparent selection process. Various sources of information are used to indicate which occupations will have a higher risk of injury or illness and which worksites have the highest accident rates.

Employer Commitment - This step includes an on-site meeting with the employer where the process is explained and their "buy-in" is secured. This is an important step because the process is meant to be voluntary with the focus on prevention and education.

Occupational Health and Safety Appraisal and Development - During this stage a preliminary assessment of health and safety components at the workplace is completed. Depending on the outcome of the appraisal, tools and assistance may be provided to the employer by Labour Program officers. It is not the intention here to provide training on how to comply with the Code, but rather to provide employers with the information and tools that will assist them.

Occupational Health and Safety Assessment - This is a formal assessment of workplace components such as safe working procedures; health and safety education and training; hazardous occurrence investigation, recording and reporting; health and safety representatives, committee and policy committee, and the internal complaint resolution process.

Occupational Health and Safety Analysis and Action Plan - This step of the process is the analysis of the information gathered to date and working with the employer to create goals to meet the requirements of the Code. Compliance with the assessment components serve as an indicator as to the likely success of the overall occupational health and safety program in a given workplace.

Maintenance of the Workplace Occupational Health and Safety Program - The Labour Program monitors the Program as a means of determining success and frequency of future interventions.

It is worth noting that the approach to implementing the Intervention Model at the level of the workplace is completely voluntary. It is a collaborative and nonconfrontational approach, designed to be a positive experience for all stakeholders and to assist in the establishment of an effective internal responsibility system in targeted workplaces.

The overall goal is to focus on high risk sectors and employers and to work in partnership with employers and employees to enhance their capacity to resolve workplace health and safety matters quickly, efficiently and autonomously. In addition, the intention is not to evaluate or audit the workplace for compliance purpose, but to perform an assessment and to develop a work plan to address any deficiencies.

That, in essence, is the basis of the National Intervention Model for occupational health and safety that is now underway in Canada.

Although still a relatively new approach, the Intervention Model has already been introduced at selected worksites across the country and the preliminary results are very encouraging. Employers are recognizing the value of the national pro-active approach in terms of creating safer, healthier and ultimately, more productive, workplaces. Employees and their representatives are recognizing the value of adopting a pro-active, cooperative approach to resolving workplace health and safety issues within the workplace itself.

The Model offers employers and employees another way to work cooperatively to implement the type of workplace health and safety policies and procedures that make sense for their workplaces. Workplace parties can all focus their efforts where the needs and potential benefits are greatest.

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