Seeing jobs with “new eyes”

Seeing the workplace or job with “new eyes” can help prevent injuries, illnesses and deaths. The phrase came from a worker looking at a workplace map she made in a health and safety committee workshop.

“New eyes” are about seeing the big picture — an overview, the variety of hazards (by category), and social aspects of a job missing in most views. They make it easier to set priorities and take action to prevent and reduce hazards —  and the injuries, illnesses, diseases and deaths they can cause.

We used it as the name of a project funded by the Manitoba Workers’ Compensation Board, that led to a guide for health and safety committees and health and safety reps. Designed for Manitoba, most of the tools are universal; the legal and other province-specific references can be adapted in other places. (Since it was published in 2008, a few changes have been made to the law, and can be easily updated. Check the latest version of the Workplace Safety and Health Act and its regulations.)

The Five steps to healthy & safe workplace framework takes participants beyond the usual find and fix it approach to taking action and evaluating the results. The guide’s front sections are linked to specific tools and include questions and activities for committees. For example, in the section about effective committees, one activity asks members to:

Use the Force field analysis tool (CP.7). Brainstorm the factors that affect the effectiveness of the safety and health committee. See if you can come up with four or five factors that drive or restrain the effectiveness.Then pick one driving force. 

Brainstorm ways to strengthen it.

The guide has three sets of tools. Each one is available as a whole or by individual document.

The committee process toolbox with 22 tools is here.

Finally, the last toolbox is about using the law. Changes to the Manitoba law since 2008 have added to duties and responsibilities. The main concepts are still the same. So too are the rules for refusing dangerous work. (As pointed out above, check the latest version of the Workplace Safety and Health Act and its regulations; the documents here will be updated soon.)