Do you, like 98 percent of Ontario businesses, employ 100 or fewer employees? Then you should try SCIP-ing into spring with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board’s Safe Communities Incentive Program.
The Safe Communities Incentive Program is a two-part health and safety incentive program geared to smaller businesses. It was run by the WSIB prevention specialists, but with the responsibility for prevention moving from the WSIB to the Ministry of Labour, it is uncertain who will deliver these programs in the future. Nevertheless, if you can find one offered in your region, it is a worthwhile investment of time.
Time is the only investment that you need to make for the program. It is currently offered at no cost to qualified participants. In fact, successful participants who complete the program requirements and documentation are eligible to receive a five percent rebate on their WSIB premiums. This is surely a deal that is hard to come by these days, and quite surprising considering current mass of unfunded WSIB liability.
Part One of the SCIP is an introduction to health and safety designed to create awareness of risks in the workplace and an understanding of a small business’ legal requirements under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act and Occupational Health and Safety Act. You may only join Part One of the SCIP program if your business has been registered with the WSIB for 12 months or less. Part One qualifies an employer for a five percent rebate on WSIB premiums.
In two separate two-hour sessions, Part One teaches how to:
- Identify and manage the risks in your workplace to keep you and your employees safe
- Comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act
- Comply with obligations to avoid Ministry of Labour orders and fines
- Access helpful resources, including your Health and Safety Association, to support your ongoing success
Part Two of the SCIP program, which is what I attended, further enhances health and safety awareness and helps you develop an effective and successful health and safety program that will help you better manage your business risks. Employers can receive up to an additional five percent rebate in Part Two of SCIP after they participate in four in-class sessions and submit both a health and safety policy and a self-evaluation checklist. However employers are not eligible to receive both rebates in the same calendar year.
Part two teaches how to:
- Develop and manage an effective health and safety program
- Develop and implement a health and safety action plan and policy
- Create a return-to-work program
- Reduce injury and illness costs and property losses
You are eligible to join SCIP if your company:
- Is registered as a Schedule 1 employer and is in good standing with the WSIB
- Pays $90,000 or less in WSIB premiums per year
- Is not part of the Safety Groups Program and has not participated in SCIP in the past
- You may only join Part One of the SCIP program if your company has been registered with the WSIB for 12 months or less
The program is exclusively for owners and senior managers, because commitment and leadership from the top is essential to developing effective health and safety and return-to-work programs.
For those of you who are looking at SCIP and are interested but don’t qualify, you can consider joining the WSIB’s Safety Group Program. The Safety Group Program provides the next step in prevention, allowing groups of companies to pool their health and safety experience and resources to help improve their prevention systems. Safety group members can reduce their workplace injuries and illnesses and be rewarded with rebates on their WSIB premiums. The huge bonus of safety groups from my previous experience with them is the networking and learning, because you are meeting with other organizations in the same industry as you, which can be health care, manufacturing, services or wherever you fit. There is often a small fee associated with the safety groups, but rebates on WSIB premiums are the incentive to participate.
So are you ready to SCIP into next spring? Hopefully with all the changes in prevention delivery, these same types of programs will continue to be offered at no charge to promote safe work practices. Rumour has it that the return-to-work portion of the program is so popular that it may be offered as a separate module. Given the costs of lost-time injuries and WSIB requirements, all eligible employers should be eager to get their return-to-work programs up and running.
Marcia Scheffler, M.A., CHRP Candidate
Human Resources Generalist
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