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Who is responsible for Health & Safety?

The answer to this question depends on who you ask.

Company Owners

An organization’s Health, Safety & Environment Program should be driven by company owners and senior management.  The written program is to be reviewed and signed off by management prior to implementation.  Senior management is responsible for directing work through their designated supervision team. They also have a responsibility to ensure that workers are provided safety training, education and equipment. Through this channel they must also ensure; hazards are identified, assessed and controlled then communicated to the workforce.

Health & Safety Professionals

There is some misconception that hired Health and Safety Advisors are responsible for the HSE Program, Implementation and Compliance.  This does depend on that professional’s role within the organization.  The law is clear about personnel being responsible are those that direct the work and in some small organizations HSE Professionals sometimes hold dual positions. In the case where the role is safety as well as supervision, the HSE Professional could be held liable for the safety of the employees. Typically an Advisors role is just that, to advise. Ultimately it is the responsibility of the management and supervision team as well as individual workers to comply with the Occupational Health & Safety Legislation.

Supervisors (anyone directing work)

Supervisors are responsible for directing work. There are other positions that may also be considered a ‘supervision role’ but do not hold that title. For example, some organizations have apprentices working with journeyman who are responsible for directing their work. In other cases, another employee holding any title may be assigned the duties of directing work (i.e. contractor, administrative assistant, or dispatcher). Ultimately it’s important that every team member is aware of their role(s) within the organization so they can be clear on their expectations and responsibilities.


Absolutely, unequivocally workers are responsible for their own safety and the safety of those around them. While it’s the organization to ensure; they’re trained and competent, informed of the hazards and provided with the correct tools and equipment, the direct execution of the work is out of their hands.


Ultimately, according to the Criminal Code of Canada (Bill C-45), anyone directing work is responsible for ensuring it’s executed safely. Organizations are to ensure that all supervision, HSE Advisors and workers are trained, competent and compliant. As a business owner it’s your responsibility to be educated and informed on Health, Safety and Environmental Legislation as it applies to your organization. But luckily, there are an abundance of Qualified Health & Safety Professionals that can provide you with the right guidance and support to assist you in executing a successful HSE Culture within your organization!


For more information on Bill C-45 you can visit HERE

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