Whether it is slips, cuts, burns or worse, tourism and hospitality workers are exposed to health and safety hazards. Therefore, employers try their best to protect them – and aiding them in this difficult task is go2HR’s Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) Program Fundamentals online course.
OHS Program Fundamentals is designed for human resource and health and safety professionals, business owners and managers in BC’s tourism, hospitality and food service industries. “I spent 20 years in the armed forces, which places high importance on safety training, and I’ve helped develop safety programs for SilverBirch Hotels & Resorts; but go2HR’s OHS course is worth its weight in gold,” says Steve Kohlen, chief engineer for SilverBirch’s Harbour Towers Hotel & Suites in Victoria.
Kohlen calls the OHS course “an education-driven initiative that enables managers to give their staff an excellent grounding in job-site safety – which in turn allows them to perform far more efficiently. And even though it’s called ‘fundamentals’, the course addresses a wide range of issues.”
Randy Murphy, director of resort services and safety manager for Hemlock Resort near Chehalis, agrees. “As a ski resort, safety is vital to us,” he says. “Having taken the OHS course, I now have a far better understanding of how to structure our safety program and assess each policy and procedure more objectively.”
OHS Program Fundamentals was developed as a response to WorkSafeBC’s mandate that all employers with more than 20 employees are required to develop a Joint Occupational Health & Safety Committee (JOHSC), and that each JOHSC member must take at least eight hours of OHS/professional development training annually. “Having members complete the OHS Program Fundamentals course is an excellent way to comply with this requirement,” says go2HR’s industry health & safety specialist, Zito Kare.
Course participants learn the fundamental principles of occupational health and safety in BC and gain an understanding of the elements of a safety management system. The OHS course consists of nine modules, each of which contains key principles, interactive exercises and quizzes. Each module takes 40 to 90 minutes to complete:
- Management and Leadership Commitment
- Hazard Identification and Control
- Safe Work Procedures and Written Instruction
- Inspection of Premises, Equipment, Workplaces and Work Practices
- Investigation of Incidents/Accidents
- Training and Instruction of Employees
- Program Administration
- Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee
- Injury Management/Return to Work Programs
Participants can select the module they want to explore and proceed at their own pace. At the end of each module, they receive a certificate. “I took the OHS course over a three-week period without any prior knowledge of its contents and found it engaging, very interactive and hands-on: exactly the elements that best impart knowledge,” says Murphy.
Kohlen took the course as part of his ultimate goal to become a Certificate of Recognition (COR)Internal Auditor for his hotel’s safety program. In acknowledging that the course provides training on how to build and implement an OHS program, he says, “It addresses many health and safety issues pertaining to housekeeping and kitchen staff and even the people working at the front desk. Nothing is overlooked.”
Kohlen was first inspired to take the course after go2HR gave a presentation at Harbour Towers about health and safety/COR programs. “It struck me that the OHS course’s ability to disseminate information to large groups of people would be effective not only in keeping them safe but also helping companies avoid paying excessive premiums, which is always a huge consideration,” he says. Kohlen is currently strategizing for one person from each of Harbour Towers’ operational divisions to undertake the OHS course.
Murphy, whose safety duties include hands-on work (such as snow and avalanche control) and administration (inspecting how supervisors are handling safety in their respective departments), says the OHS course “definitely helps you deliver your safety program better. A lot of my time is spent trying to engage people half my age about the importance of safety initiatives, and this course has greatly improved my communication with them.”
For his part, Kohlen urges everyone in the tourism and hospitality industries to take the OHS Program Fundamentals course. “If you’re trying to get staff inspired and engaged in safety, then look no further,” he says. “It will only cost you time and a little effort, and the outcomes are well worth it.”