When I was into my 2-month internship program in a constructional company, me and my team mates were asked to visit the constructional sites on daily basis. When I visited the site, the environment over there had more of pollution with excess of heat. It was because, the constructional site was there at the out skirts of the city and we were made to be in the site for almost 7 hours per day.
Due to the heat stress, I was affected with dizziness, headache and thirst.
I was also made to supervise each floor of the building which was under construction in order to report my manager about the work which was being performed by the workers at the constructional area. I felt the task more difficult as my health was at a great risk due to the heat stress and pollution. In addition to that, I was not provided with any of the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like- helmet, safety guards, face mask, ear plugs, googles, slip & electric resistant boots etc.
I would have felt safer at the workplace, if I had known about PPE and if my manager had advised me about precautions to be taken in order to overcome the environmental hazards- heat stress. My workplace had no display of the health and safety policies to bring awareness to the employees about the precautions to be taken while at work. Due to the unhealthy and stressful work environment, I had to quit my internship half way as I was not provided with any of the instructions or training to deal with the hazards.
I believe that the responsibility of health and safety must be shared between the employees and the employers. An employer must ensure that the employees are healthy and safe in order to perform the organizational tasks effectively and efficiently. They must display a written form of occupational health and safety policy in the workplace. The Employees must be provided with the equipment, materials and protective devices. The employers must make sure that the work environment is safe and free from hazards.
On the other hand, it is also the responsibility of the employees to perform their tasks in a safer manner. They should be wearing various protective equipment as per the company’s regulations. If the employees come across any defective equipment, it is their responsibility to report about that to the safety professional, joint health and safety committee or manager. When I was into my internship program, we were not informed about our responsibility towards the safety and even the employers have not taken any responsibility of our safety. That had led many of the employees who also work on permanent basis to quit the organization.
As the company have experienced the resignations of many employees, it has understood its flaw and then started to bring up health and safety policies in the workplace. It has also begun to provide training the employees on how to deal with the hazard when it occurs. Every employer must understand that, once an employee is being hired, the former will take the complete responsibility of the latter. It is very much necessary for me and in fact everyone to improve their knowledge on health and safety legislation.
I could improve my knowledge by getting accustomed with the act, powers of enforcement, worker’s right to refuse unsafe work, protection of workers from reprisals and duties and responsibilities assigned to employers and others. I could also improve my knowledge about the health and safety legislation by going through various articles on the amendments of the subsections and various acts of the health and safety. It is important to know all of these because, if there has been an absence of policies of occupational health and safety being displaying at the workplace, then our own knowledge on the legislation would help us know our rights and take considerable steps further.
From my own experience, when I worked on a part time basis at a café, I felt more stressed upon the loading and unloading the truck with goods. But my knowledge on the legislation has helped me to know my right to refuse unsafe work. Then my manager of the café understood my right and has given me another duty to be performed in the cafe instead of making me take more stress. Health and safety professional, in order to implement the health and safety legal requirements in the workplace, has the obligation to protect the workers from getting injured due to their work. If the workers are prevented from the workplace hazards, they would be able to complete the tasks assigned to them in an effective and efficient manner.
The health and safety professionals also have an obligation to understand that the workers safety is more important than the company’s productivity. They also have the responsibility to bring awareness about the health and safety policies among the workers. The workers in the workplace must know the equipment they must use in order to protect themselves from getting injured while at work. When I was there in my internship program, there were no health and safety professionals to guide us on taking safer steps while performing the tasks assigned to us. The management team was only there with a motive of achieving their targets and goals without bothering the safety of the employees.
They only focussed on the company’s productivity rather than on the employee’s safety. If there is any company with these motives, then there would be a reduction in its reputation. It is because, if an employee gets injured in the workplace, the management team and the employer of the company would be questioned first. Every organization must have a health and safety professional to make sure that the employees in the work environment are safe. If the professional finds out that the employees are struggling with some safety issues, he/she would rectify that.
While filing a claim with the WSIB/WCB as an injured worker, I would primarily be concerned about the procedure involved in filing the claim. It is because, in order to receive some compensation in return for the injury, I will have to submit some documents of my treatment and the employment to the Board. I would be concerned about whether the board will process my claim for compensation or stop the process. It is because, if they accept my claim and offer me with the benefit, I would be utilizing the amount for my further medication if my injury Is a major one.
But if the claim has been denied, then it would be a huge burden for me as the medical expenses would be expensive. In that case, I had to ask for help from my family to offer some money for my medication. I would also be concerned about the injury that has happened to me. I would think upon, how the injury has occurred and how to protect myself from getting injured. I have heard some incidents, where the claim that has been filed by the employees with WSIB/WCB has got denied.
When I used to work in a café on part- time basis, one of my colleagues had suffered from shoulder due to weighing huge weights while at work. Initially, she thought it was not a major pain. But later on, she understood that the pain is getting increased. So, she had to file a claim with the WSIB/WCB. But her claim got denied, saying that she had reported to the Board regarding the injury after 7 months from the day she first noticed the pain. Generally, there would be denial, if an injured worker files the claim with the WSIB/WCB after 6 months from the date of injury. In my opinion, there is a perception that an injured worker does not want to work (or return to work) because, they take advantage of the compensation provided by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.
Some of the employees feel that, it would be better to earn from home by not taking up any responsibility than going for work and earn the wages. Those employees though they are not injured, produce some false evidences and file a claim with the WSIB. Then they take break from work and stay at home. Once their claim gets approved, they never go back to the organization for work. but on the other hand, the employees who severely get injured, stay at home and receive their benefits.
Once they get healed up, they join the work. but the employees, who take advantage of the compensational benefits from WSIB, must understand that the amount they receive as a compensation would not be sufficient for their standard of living. It is because, the compensational amount they receive out of the claim would be only half their wages. It is important for the employer and also the board to understand and make difference between the employees, who give genuine reason and the employees who approach them to take advantage of the benefits they provide.