Evidence-based actions for protection of physical safety

These actions and responses can be implemented with a minimal investment of resources or cost to the organization.

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Description: In a work environment with positive protection of physical safety, management takes appropriate action to protect all employees against injury and illness and ensures they have what they need to do their jobs safely.

You can access our free workshop materials to engage your team in a discussion about any concerns or suggestions related to physical safety. 

Ensure the organization demonstrates that employee health and safety is a priority.  

  • Update all job descriptions to identify physical hazards. Be sure to list those that may affect psychological health. 
  • Ensure that every employee has what they need in terms of information, protective equipment, and skills to do their job safely. 
  • Respond promptly and effectively to incidents, work-related illnesses and accidents. 
    • Leaders who respond to incidents with thoughtful action and preventive measures can reduce stress for everyone involved. Refer to Crisis response for leaders for more information.  
    • Document all incidents, accidents and responses. 
  • Offer timely and effective supports following a critical incident. These may include: 
    • Defusing 
    • Debriefing  
    • Employee and family assistance programs  
    • Psychological treatment 
    • Organizational and community resources to help employees experiencing a mental health issue or crisis – use the Mental health resource template to develop a customized list. Share the form with all employees and keep it up to date and readily accessible for when help is needed. 
  • Provide additional supports and services for employees working in high-physical-risk positions or environments. 
  • Provide employees with the knowledge and skills they need to help cope with the psychological impact of incidents and accidents. 
  • Include employee protection of physical safety in your organization’s vision and values. 
  • Communicate the following to employees, including new hires, and ensure they understand: 
    • Health and safety programs 
    • Policies 
    • Committee reports 
    • Relevant provincial, territorial and federal legislative health and safety regulation changes 
    • Safety regulations 
  • Here are some communication methods:
    •  Intranet 
    • Newsletter 
    • Staff room 
    • Bulletin boards 

Regularly maintain and communicate up-to-date safety regulations. 

  • The regulations may differ depending on your industry, sector and region. Refer to Employment standards in Canada for links to the relevant resources. 
    • The Ontario Government training guide, Supervisor health and safety awareness in 5 steps, introduces supervisors to their responsibilities under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Each province and territory likely have something similar available through the relevant employment standards agency. 
    • Check out New worker orientation guidelines by the Public Service of British Columbia. There’s a checklist of occupational safety items that must be included in training for certain workplaces. These items can be customized to your workplace. 
  • Workers, supervisors and employers have rights and duties for dealing with workplace violence and harassment. These are outlined in the Understand the law on workplace violence and harassment guide, which was developed for Ontario employers.  
  • Maintain up-to-date protocols for monitoring, reporting and responding to physical hazards. 
    • Give employees clear guidelines on how to identify physical hazards, so they can provide safe, timely and effective reporting. 
    • Implement policies to protect and support employees who report physical risks. 

Maintain work-scheduling practices that support health and safety. 

  • Ensure employees have enough time for rest – particularly those working shifts or extended hours. 
  • Review work-scheduling practices to ensure they don’t impose undue risk of psychological harm. 

Additional actions and resources  

Putting protection of physical safety on the agenda provides materials to support a team discussion on approaches to the protection of physical safety, as well as materials to support policy review and development.


Adapted from Guarding Minds at Work™

© Samra, J., Gilbert, M., Shain, M., Bilsker, D. 2009-2020, with amendments by Stuart, H. 2022.  All rights reserved. Website development and data storage by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS).

Guarding Minds at Work was commissioned by Canada Life and additional resources are supported by Workplace Strategies for Mental Health.

Contributors include.articlesDan BilskerDavid K. MacDonaldDr. Heather StuartDr. Joti SamraDr. Martin ShainMary Ann BayntonMerv GilbertPhilip PerczakSarah JennerSusan JakobsonWorkplace Safety and Prevention ServicesWorkplace Strategies team 2022 to present

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