To prevent is to anticipate.
While it is true that the labour movement has made strides in occupational health and safety in recent years, prevention continues to be a daily challenge, especially in an increasingly competitive world that has become obsessed with productivity and profit.
It remains difficult to establish—and especially to implement—real, relevant prevention programs due chiefly to the following:
- Relationships with employers can be tense;
- Unions and employers often have different visions when it comes to OHS;
- Given the issues at stake, it is crucial that those responsible for OHS conduct research; and acquire knowledge in a variety of fields, which takes considerable time and energy
- Those responsible for ensuring OHS are often isolated from executive committees or perceived by union members as “policing” the workplace
- It is necessary is necessary to establish close ties and engage in regular communication with members.
Active union involvement in prevention efforts rests on the support of union members
repose sur l’appui des membres
and their participation in
occupational health and safety matters
By identifying risks and anticipating hazards, we give ourselves the means to address potential problems in the workplace in order to prevent accidents and reduce the incidence of physical or psychological distress related to work. Such as:
- Working to establish a relationship of respect with the employer, in order to improve the efficacy of the joint OHS committee and, ultimately, to improve labour conditions
- Re-establishing ties with members in order to raise awareness about the importance of prevention in health and safety, and to garner their support during negotiations with the employer;
- Presenting accident statistics at general assemblies to keep members apprised of the situation and to open debate about possible solutions, then continuing the debate in conversation with the employer during joint OHS committee meetings;
- Seeking input from external parties to invite a different perspective.
Union leadership plays an essential role in prevention.
The union cannot act in the place of the employer, but it does wield some power to help move things along the path toward prevention, notably by showing the employer the ways in which both sides stand to benefit. All parties feels involved and everyone wins