Due diligence means employers take all reasonable precautions in certain situations to prevent injuries or accidents in the workplace. Employers should implement plans to identify hazards in the workplace and administer the applicable corrective action to prevent accidents or injuries from occurring. All four companies I interviewed had some sort of understanding of the concept of due diligence (from the general idea at Company CS to a full-on definition at Companies BS, OT and CM).
The understanding is definitely linked to actually having safety policies and procedures.
I feel as though Company CS googled it before the interview. ) Understanding of the concept itself as well as its importance is necessary before managers will see the benefit of spending time and money getting help to implement due diligence and the necessary steps. Working Towards Achieving Due Diligence Employers must have occupational health and safety policies, practices and procedures written. Documentation of workplace safety audits, hazards identified, changes made to correct these conditions as well as proof that all employees have been provided with information to work safely are required.
Employers must provide training and education to employees. All companies except for Company CS had WHMIS training. Supervisors must be trained to ensure competence as well. Company CM seemed hesitant when nodding her head so it is possible supervisors receive the same training as everyone else and are not especially focused on. Employers should have accident investigation and reporting systems in place where employees are encouraged to report “almost-accidents” (quotation marks are also in place to convey the inaccuracy of the term “accidents” since this word implies the incident was not preventable).
An example of implementing due diligence in the workplace would be applying progressive discipline for breaches of safety rules. Company CM was able to give me an example of a safety policy in the call centre. Agents have the tendency to put their feet up on the computer towers which is unsafe. If a supervisor catches an agent doing this (as well as other unsafe habits) they are reprimanded and go through the steps of progressive discipline under “floor policies” (where they are verbally warned, then receive a written arning, then lose their bonus, and then are terminated). This ties in to the next point, that workers have responsibilities as well. Workers should follow safe work practices and comply with regulations.
Another example of performing due diligence would be going through employees’ reports and making modifications to safety policies, which Company’s OT and BS made sure to mention. For example, Company BS had orientation and OHS training for new hires where the proper lifting procedure of heavy items from ground to waist by bending the knees was demonstrated and practiced.
However, a simple repetitive task one employee performed resulted in a wrist strain and so the policies were updated to include covering repetitive tasks in training and the encouragement for employees to come to management when they believe they are in need of job rotation. While this may have been done in the past, managers realized it was not explicitly covered in their safety and training policies/procedures. Companies BS, OT and CM work towards achieving due diligence but Company CS does not.
Employers should keep thorough documentation to show a history of the company’s OHS program and its progression over time, as well as to provide up-to-date information as a defense to charges. Company OT noted that they take pride in very accurate record keeping. Their record management ensures scheduled audits are performed and both physical and electronic documentation are filed. Their incident management ensures employees are making reports and there is open communication. Company OT even showed me a copy of an MSDS. Due Diligence and Legal Requirements
Due diligence is important as a legal defense for a person charged under occupational health and safety legislation. A defendant can attempt to prove themselves as not guilty if they can demonstrate due diligence – that is if they can prove that all the necessary precautions were taken in order to protect the health and safety of workers. A breach of duty by the employer must be shown in addition to evidence that precautions were not taken by the employer to guard against the hazards (potential source of damage) and risks (probability of hazards affecting people).
Differences Between <100 versus >100 Employee-Sized Companies Immediately Company CS stands out from the rest because the checklist is adorned with the answer “no” to nearly all of the questions. This very small business does not have policies or procedures in place, employees were never trained, there is no documentation or reporting system of any kind, and there is no communication of hazards, identification or auditing. While a general idea of due diligence was understood there was a contemptuous snicker each time they said “no,” showing disregard for something that should be taken into account.
Obviously the importance of due diligence and the OHSA was not understood. Company CS is wrong in perceiving health and safety is not an issue in their line of work. The fact that they were missing everything on the due diligence checklist was humorous to them, more so in the discovery that they were missing so much and likely it had never occurred to them that even working on a computer most days in an office there are precautions to be taken. Company OT was very confident and knowledgeable. They were prepared to show me an example of an MSDS and had all their answers prepared.
They were very organized and honest. They likely are able to follow legislation because they have thousands of employees. In companies this large they have an HR department, as opposed to the single HR person at Company CM who mentioned having other HR staff a couple of years ago to create new policies and procedures but once that was done and the company lost their main client many employees were let go. Company CM was very honest and clear about the procedures they follow. They have gained new clients and are growing so it sounds like a lot of work for that one HR Coordinator to keep on top of everything.
From what I could tell the company was keeping information up-to-date as a priority, especially with the expansion they are currently experiencing. The one thing Company CM does not have is a formal hazard reporting procedure that encourages employees to report unsafe conditions and practices to supervisors. They were hesitant and embarrassed it seemed when they said no, but they backed up their answer by telling me that employees feel open communicating through email when there is an issue. For instance, if a keyboard tray is loose they simply email a supervisor which terminal to fix.
The issue was that they do not have a formal procedure or awareness for employees. A reasonable person should be able to predict incidents and prevent them from happening. It is worth noting that both the worker and the employer are responsible for preventing incidents and injuries. This is why reporting procedures and educating employees on them is important to include with other training. Company BS has many staff and they cycle through them often as most are students. Training and orientation are very well documented, there are formal procedures, and the company keeps all necessary documents.
The impression I got from Company BS was that they didn’t want to spend too much time talking to me and they simply ensure due diligence to abide by legislation and prevent any costs if someone is injured. Company BS had short answers to show me they meet due diligence requirements, but did not portray the value of workers’ health and safety the way Company OT did. Company CM has less than 100 employees but are growing, so while they answered “yes” to nearly all of the checklist questions I was under the impression, due to some hesitation, that they are not confident in meeting all the requirements.
Company CM is restructuring and are currently revising all policies and procedures so the safety program should be 100% soon. Company BS (more than 100 employees) meets the requirements of due diligence and definitely has a good safety program in place. Company OT (thousands of employees) demonstrates due diligence and has an exceptional safety program. Company CS (less than 100 employees) is very small, does not demonstrate due diligence, does not seem to see the importance of safety policies and procedures, and does not even have a safety program.
Company CS is also 3 years young so now that they are settled and have some kind of financial security they may look into creating and implementing OHS policies and procedures. While they did not treat the due diligence interview very seriously they may realize this is a priority that should be acted on. No one has been hurt yet, but he should be aware that without any training, policies, procedures or documentation, it might only take one incident and his business could be over.
Cite this Understanding the Concept of Due Diligence
Understanding the Concept of Due Diligence. (2016, Oct 02). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/understanding-the-concept-of-due-diligence/