Reporting safety hazards

If you have a concern about health and safety issues at your workplace, there are procedures in place to assist you.

Although the following step-by-step process refers primarily to acute care settings, all workers – in every sector and occupational area – have the right and responsibility to report safety hazards.

What do I do?

The first step is to fill-out an incident report or hazard form. These forms, which are available at every nurses’ station, will ask you a series of questions and provide checklists to help you identify the specific issue or incident.

The next step is to tell your immediate supervisor. The supervisor will investigate and follow-up to resolve the issue in a timely manner.

Make sure you have noted on the form that copies are to go to your local union officers, your HEU servicing representative, and your local health and safety committee. These copies help make sure that everyone is aware of the situation.

If you work for a health authority, you can report the hazard on the "incident line", which is the same phone number you use to report an injury. Make sure you know the designated phone number to the "incident line" at your work site.

Usually, the local OH&S committee investigates the issue, makes recommendations to the employer, and the problem is resolved. Most employers will want to know when there is a problem so it can be corrected. However, if an employer fails to act, your local OH&S committee will contact WorkSafeBC (formerly the Workers’ Compensation Board) to step-in, do an inspection and issue formal orders to the employer.

Those orders are also copied to HEU’s Provincial or Regional offices.

NEVER LET ANYONE tell you not to report an incident, no matter how small it may seem. This includes supervisors or any other person in authority.

What do I report?

Whether it’s an uncleaned coffee spill, a needlestick injury, a fall, or a problem with air quality, you have the right and responsibility to file an incident report. Each type of hazard is addressed differently and has its own response team such as nursing, infection control, housekeeping, trades/maintenance, or OH&S.

Something like a coffee spill must be cleaned up immediately to prevent injuries from a slip or fall. On the other hand, a needlestick injury requires immediate medical attention with follow-up treatment.

Problems with air quality or a chemical spill (including mercury) often involve intervention from trades and maintenance personnel or the biohazard (nuclear medicine) department.

In all these cases, it is important to be proactive about any hazard you encounter. In this way, you are protecting yourself, your co‑workers and patients.