One of the most important responsibilities an employer has is ensuring their organization practices proper due diligence regarding health and safety.
If an organization cannot provide sufficient evidence of due diligence, it can be held liable for workplace incidents. While the defense of due diligence is only available in administrative offenses (depending on the jurisdiction), it is also important in civil and criminal proceedings.
Due diligence is a legal concept and the notion of having practiced proper due diligence is subject to a court’s ruling after an incident has already occurred, based on the evidence your company can provide.
However, due diligence has to be exercised BEFORE an incident happens. After the fact is too late. Think of due diligence as, have you done everything reasonably practicable to prevent an incident from occurring?
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To help you gauge how you’re doing, we’ve put together this simple checklist of questions:
- Are you accurately documenting incidents and action items relating to them?
- Do you have a company and/or a site-specific safety management system that accurately reflects the work activities that you are doing?
- Do you have documented evidence that your employees are actually trained in safety procedures or policy documents (simply reading and acknowledging a policy or procedure is not sufficient)?
- In addition to online training (if you use it) are you providing workplace specific and practical training to your employees (even in topics such as WHMIS)?
- Are all of your hazards identified and are your reports and corrective actions documented?
- Can you prove that your hazard identification reports have not been altered since they were completed?
- Are you documenting and communicating all safety meetings and communications?
- Can you prove that you are using the hierarchy of controls to either eliminate or control hazards?
- Are all levels of management accountable for health and safety and are they fulfilling their obligations? Please remember that even if you have a safety person or consultant, management can NOT subrogate their obligations to anyone else.
- Are you properly vetting all of your contractors and also their subcontractors to ensure they can fulfill their legal obligations?
- Does your safety management system follow the “Plan-Do-Check-Act” approach?
One major gap that we commonly see is companies that use “off the shelf” or “cut and paste” safety manuals. If it is in your manual, you are accountable for it. If it’s documented in your safety program, the company is responsible for documenting due diligence around all your policies and procedures.
All this documentation must be well organized and easily accessible as you will be required to provide your proof of due diligence soon after the court requests it. So, if you were required to provide all your documentation for proof of due diligence by the courts, would you be able to retrieve it in a timely manner?
How EcoOnline Can Help
The EcoOnline EHS management solution can help you practice proper due diligence, as it is a central repository for all things health and safety. Digitize and centralize all documentation in one cloud-based platform, easily accessible to all key players. Prove due diligence by finding what you need in a few clicks, and keep track of all records with the help of this robust tool.
Curious to learn more about how the EcoOnline suite of solutions can help you practice due diligence? Speak to one of our EcoOnline representatives today.