Occupational health and safety (OHS) fundamentals

An OHS program should be built upon certain fundamental management principles. As business operators, owners, and managers, you must create the expectations and goals for your occupational health and safety (OHS) program. A commitment from leadership will help your health and safety strategy achieve the strongest results.

Your occupational health and safety program should include:

  • Management commitment
  • Leadership
  • Assigned responsibilities and accountability
  • Worker involvement


Due Diligence

Due diligence is defined as taking all reasonable care to protect the well-being of employees or co-workers”. This concept is important to employers, supervisors, and workers when it comes to compliance with occupational health and safety legislation. Due diligence is a recognized defence to any alleged violation of the legislation. 

Developing, implementing, and maintaining an effective OHS program is one way for an employer to demonstrate due diligence. Providing the necessary supervision, instruction, and direction of workers demonstrates due diligence.

Workers show due diligence by complying with the requirements of legislation and your company’s OHS program. 

Elements of an OHS program

The elements of a small employer OHS program are found in the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations – section 3.3 – and must include: 

  • Statement of the employer’s aims and the responsibilities of the employer, supervisors and workers [leadership]
  • Provisions for regular workplace inspections [workplace inspections]
  • Appropriate written instructions for workers [training]
  • Provisions for holding periodic management meetings to review health and safety [leadership]
  • Provisions for the prompt investigation of incidents [incident investigation]
  • Maintenance of health and safety records and statistics [program administration]
  • Provisions by the employer for the instruction and supervision of workers in the safe performance of their work [training]

A comprehensive program will include: