Hazard Reporting Guidelines
This document is intended to provide guidance to workers and supervisors in the appropriate completion of the City of Toronto’s Electronic Hazard Reporting Process, the hard copy Hazard Reporting Form and the Hazard Response Form/Workplace Hazard Assessment Tool.
The Occupational Health & Safety Act places responsibilities on various workplace parties, such that hazards in the workplace are identified and reported appropriately so they may be either controlled or eliminated:
- Workers under Section 28 have a legal duty to report defects in equipment or violations of the Act to their immediate supervisors.
- Supervisors, upon being notified of such hazards, have a legal duty under Section 27 to address the reported hazard.
- Supervisors also have a legal duty to inform and advise workers of the presence of real or potential hazards in the workplace of which they are aware.
There are several purposes for using the Electronic Reporting Process, the Hazard Reporting Form and Hazard Response Form/Hazard Assessment Tool:
- It will assist workers in ensuring that the issues, circumstances and conditions they believe are hazards to their safety and health are effectively communicated, so the supervisor fully understands the concern.
- It will provide workers and supervisors a documented process for ensuring concerns are reported and addressed to completion.
- It will message to workers that reported hazards will receive appropriate attention.
- It will facilitate communication in the workplace between all parties that play a role in the identification and control of hazards.
- It will, should it be needed, provide supervisors another tool to demonstrate that they took all reasonable steps to address hazards reported to them.
- It will provide a means for supervisors to determine the severity of a reported hazard, which will assist in prioritizing corrective actions.
- The assessment tool may assist in other processes, such as determining the significance of hazards when responding to work refusals.
Please complete all sections and print legibly!
The process begins with a worker choosing to either use the Electronic Hazard Reporting Process or use the Hazard Reporting Form to report a hazard.
Electronic Hazard Reporting Process
City staff may choose to report a hazard using the Electronic Reporting Process. By selecting a link on the City’s Inside Toronto Intranet site, a hazard may be reported and sent in real time to the supervisor who has the authority to take action to investigate, correct, eliminate or escalate the concern.
Once the link is selected, the website takes the user to a new webpage where they will first need to choose and identify the Joint Health & Safety Committee (JH&SC) that provides support for the user’s work location.
Once the user selects a committee, a new webpage opens identifying the members of the selected Joint Health & Safety Committee.
A REPORT A HAZARD button is located at the top of the membership page. Once selected, an email will be populated by the reporting worker and it will automatically copy the respective Joint Health & Safety Committee Co-Chairs. The worker follows the instructions located at the top of the email by describing the hazard or the health and safety issue. It is highly recommended that the worker be as descriptive as possible in identifying the location of the hazard (address, building, floor, time of day the incident occurred etc.) and recommend what might be done to correct, eliminate or minimize the hazard.
The worker must include the name of the Supervisor or manager they report to, in the “To” address box and send the email. Alternatively, the worker may wish to complete the requested information on the email template, print it, and hand the hard copy to their supervisor/manager instead.
As outlined in these Hazard Reporting Guidelines, the supervisor/manager who receives the email must provide feedback to the worker on the status of the hazard within one week.
In the spirit of the Internal Responsibility System, the supervisor or manager who receives the email notification, is the first person to action the reported hazard. The JH&SC Co-Chairs are provided the notification for their information only at this point that a hazard has been identified and reported. Co-Chairs may offer to assist, request the status of the action, identify the notification on the agenda for the next Committee meeting or take up the reported hazard as committee business in the event the management action is unresponsive or inadequate.
Supervisors/managers who receive the emailed hazard notification must take reasonable measures to review the email, and assess the concern. The Workplace Hazard Assessment Tool on the 2nd page of the Hazard Response Form is a tool that may be used to access the frequency, severity and the probability of the reported hazard if the supervisor /manager needs some direction. The action taken for the reported hazard, correction, substitution, elimination or escalation may be reported back ye replying back using the notification email, or the supervisor/manager may wish to send back the Hazard Response Form with the completed Workplace Hazard Assessment Tool.
Hazard Reporting Form
Not all City employees have regular access to the Intranet or have email accounts. For those staff who wish to formally report a hazard, the Hazard Reporting Form is available for them to use. The Hazard Report Forms are available on the HR Web at or on the health & safety bulletin board in your workplace. It is strongly suggested that workers complete the form when they report hazards. Furthermore, supervisors who are verbally notified of hazards should clearly encourage workers to complete the form.
If it is possible for workers to correct or eliminate hazards themselves, they should do so. The hazardous condition should, however, still be reported using the reporting form so the supervisor is aware that the hazard was identified and addressed. This will assist in communicating the potential hazard to other workers.
The worker completes Step 1 on the form and is asked to be as detailed as possible. The more thorough the information on the form, the better understood the issue will be.
Date of Report (yyyy-mm-dd):
The date the report is drafted and sent to the supervisor
Name of Worker (First, Last):
The name of the worker identifying the hazard
The name of the work group of the reporting employee – e.g. EMS North West Ops; Transportation Services, North York District, Long Term Care Homes & Services, Cummer Lodge; etc.
Name (First, Last) of the Supervisor Hazard Reported to:
The worker identifies the name of the immediate supervisor who is about to receive the form. It is important that the worker identifies this person so the chain of responsibility may be established
Description of the hazard:
The worker needs to be as descriptive and expressive as possible in describing the hazard. The location (where) of the hazard, name (what) of the equipment or device, its condition (bent, broken, leaning, cracked, slipping etc) and other characteristics (colour, sound, taste and smell) should all be identified. Consider including the time of day the hazard is present.
Suggested Corrective Action (if any):
Workers working with the machine or performing the task are the most knowledgeable and intimate with the process, therefore it is reasonable to ask them to provide a suggested solution to the problem.
Note that reporting the hazard to the immediate supervisor for review and correction is a Legal Duty for the worker reporting the hazard required under the Occupational Health & Safety Act and is the first and the best method to have the issue corrected.
To ensure that the respective Joint Health & Safety Committee is notified of the reported hazard, the worker will also complete Step 1A. The names of the JH&SC Co-Chairs are found on the local Health & Safety Bulletin Board. One copy of the Hazard Reporting Form is sent to the supervisor the hazard is report to and another copy to the JH&SC Co-Chairs. The worker should retain a copy.
At any stage, the worker reporting the hazard may enlist the support of their Joint Health & Safety Committee (JHSC) or Health & Safety Representative (H&S Rep), whose role it is to facilitate discussions between the employee and supervisory level in remedying the hazard. At all times, the JH&SC/H&S Rep, Human Resources/Divisional Occupational Health & Safety staff and Union Health & Safety Staff and employee must first allow the supervisor the opportunity to address the hazard.
Upon receiving the Hazard Reporting Form, the immediate supervisor assesses the hazard using the Workplace Hazard Assessment Tool on the back of the Hazard Response Form. The purpose of the tool is to determine the significance of the hazard. The assessment considers the severity of the hazard, the number of people exposed, and the probability the hazard could resulting in an accident. These criteria will help the supervisor determine if the reported hazard is a Class A, B or C Hazard, thereby dictating the urgency with which it must be addressed. In some circumstances, these criteria may also assist the supervisor in identifying that the issue being raised is not a health and safety hazard and should therefore be addressed using other available mechanisms.
The supervisor needs to visit, observe and investigate the reported hazard to properly assess the hazard. This should be done as soon as possible. Furthermore, the supervisor should perform the assessment while talking to the worker as well as other workers in the area to enable understanding of the concern.
The supervisor identifies, on the assessment tool, the work area where the hazard is located. Examples below may be:
- File room, 5 West, City Hall
- Kitchen, TPS Station 45
- Carpenter’s shop, Building C, 1050 Ellesmere
- Parking Lot, Humber Bay Treatment Plant
- Paint Shop, Toryork Drive
The supervisor then identifies on the assessment tool the type of hazard reported. Examples below may be:
- Air Quality/Ventilation
- Temperature (hot or cold) Noise
- Work Practices/Procedures
- Material Handling
- Psycho-social (Stress, anxiety, frustration)
- Fire or Flood
- Technology Failure
- Interruption of Utility (e.g. power outage)
By identifying the type of hazard, the supervisor will have a better understanding of its scope. Thorough identification of the type of hazard is possible only by observing the hazard.
The supervisor then identifies specifically what the reported hazard is. Examples may be:
- Defective or missing machine guard on punch press
- Pulled carpeting
- Leaking pipe
- Missing guardrail on stairs
- Leaking hydraulic cylinder
- Inappropriate or ill fitting PPE
- Smell of solvent
- Noise from sorting machine
- Lack of eye wash stations
The purpose of the Workplace Hazard Assessment Tool is to determine how significant the reported hazard actually is, and whether or not adequate controls are in place to protect City staff (or possibly the public) from the identified hazard(s). It is very important to determine that any identified current hazard controls actually work. For example, referring to a past Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Report that identifies acceptable IAQ for a reported air quality hazard may not be an adequate control if the report is five years old and the layout and staff size of the workplace has changed. Similarly, training (as a control) may not be adequate if the training is outdated as new equipment or processes have been introduced since the training was last delivered. When determining the significance of a hazard, whether it is a Class A, B or C Hazard, the risk will not be fully known until the presence and adequacy of the available controls are determined.
If controls are not present, let alone adequate, the risk is greater, which will assist in determining the action plan to address the hazard.
The assessment tool examines three criteria that when added together will determine the significance of the hazard. The three criteria are:
- Hazard Severity
- Frequency of Exposure
- Probability of the hazard resulting in an accident or injury
When taken together, Severity + Frequency + Probability will determine the Hazard Significance. Depending on the sum weight of the three criteria, significance will result in either a Class A, Class B, or Class C Hazard.
Class A Hazards are high risk hazards that may result in
- Critical Injury
- Permanent Disability
- Extensive loss of structure, equipment, material or process
Class A Hazards warrant the highest level attention. They call for immediate, comprehensive, and imaginative corrective action measures to remedy the problem which may include stopping the work.
Examples of Class A Hazards could be, but are not limited to:
- Unguarded machinery
- Exposed electrical wiring
- Flammable chemicals or materials stored next to heat sources
- Absence of Lockouts for equipment maintenance
- Falling hazards greater than 3 meters
- Unprotected trench or excavation walls
- Smell of gas
- Entry into untested confined spaces without the proper safety equipment
Class B Hazards are medium level hazards that may result in:
- Lost time injury/temporary disability
- Medically attended injury
- Disruption of work process
- Property damage less severe than a Class A Hazard
This type of hazard is not immediately dangerous but if left unattended, the situation would deteriorate and injury could occur. These must be corrected as soon as possible.
Examples of Class B Hazards could be, but are not limited to:
- Tasks requiring heavy lifting
- Tasks requiring high repetition of movement
- Objects and trip hazards on the floor
- Spills on the floor
- Performing tasks without the proper PPE
- Protruding metal and sharp objects that can cut
- Improper equipment set up and use (e.g. ladders)
Class C Hazards are low level to zero risk hazards that may result in:
- No injury/illness
- First aid attention
- No disruption of work process
- No property damage
Class C hazards may or may not be health or safety concerns. If a health and safety concern, they may be administrative in nature or very low risk. Rather than safety issues, they may be operational issues or items better dealt within in a different venue. They may be general maintenance items that should be addressed but pose no immediate concern. Plan to correct at a future date, as appropriate, depending on the circumstance of the hazard – i.e. cracked window, leaking tap, loose handle. Such issues should be recognized as operational or maintenance, rather than health and safety hazards.
Class C Hazards could be, but are not limited to:
- A loose bracket
- Leaking tap
- Loose handle
- Sticking wheel on a cart
- Cracked window
- Dust on a surface
- Missing or stained ceiling tile
Once the supervisor has completed parts 1, 2 and 3 of the Assessment form, the supervisor is then asked to calculate the severity, frequency and probability of the reported hazard on part 4 of the form.
Workplace Hazardous Assessment Tool – to be completed by Supervisor
Severity evaluates the significance of the consequences that may result from a hazard. The supervisor has to ask him/her self if this reported hazard could result in a death. Could this hazard result in a first aid injury requiring a band aid? The Assessment Tool provides a numeric weighting system that will help the supervisor to determine the potential severity of the hazard. The key is that the supervisor uses “reasonableness” to determine how severe the hazard is.
- If the supervisor reasonably believes the hazard would result in no injury or illness, or no quality or production loss, the severity is given a numerical weight of “0” and placed in the table.
- If the supervisor reasonably believes the hazard would result in a minor injury (e.g. first aid), or illness without lost time, or result in non-disruptive property damage or non disruptive loss of quality or production, the severity is given a numerical weight of “2” and placed in the table.
- If the supervisor reasonably believes the hazard would result in a lost time injury or illness without permanent disability; or result in disruptive property damage; or disruptive quality, production, or other disruptive loss, the severity is given a numerical weight of “4” and placed in the table.
- If the supervisor reasonably believes the hazard would result in a permanent disability or loss of life or body part; and/or extensive loss of structure, equipment or material; extensive quality production or other loss, the severity is given a numerical weight of “6” and placed in the table.
The Assessment Tool provides the “severity weighting” as a reference on the form.
Frequency asks how many people are exposed to this reported hazard or how often people are exposed to the hazard? The supervisor will need to observe the work and interview other workers in the area to determine how many people are exposed to the hazard, and how often, on any one work day. The more people exposed to the hazard, the greater the risk may be. Conversely, the fewer the number of people exposed, the lower the risk of an injury or accident. Consider asbestos as an example. While a considerable health hazard, the risk of an asbestos related sickness is low if the asbestos is contained so that no workers are exposed to it.
The Assessment Tool provides a “frequency weighting” as a reference on the form
If only a few people (four or less) are exposed to the hazard once daily or less, then the frequency is given a weighting of “1” and placed in the table. If few people are exposed to the hazard many times per day, the frequency weighting is a given a value of “2” and placed in the table.
Similarly, if a moderate number of people (between five and nine) are exposed to the hazard a few times per day, the frequency weighting is given a value of “2” and placed in the table.
If many people (ten or more) are exposed to the hazard many times per day, the frequency weighting is given a value of “3” and placed in the table.
The key is that the supervisor needs to exercise reasonable judgement to determine how many people per day are exposed to the hazard and how often they are exposed.
Probability evaluates the likelihood that this hazard could turn into an accident/incident/event? By considering probability, the supervisor is asking whether there is a high or low likelihood that this hazard has of resulting in an accident. Consider the storage of flammable materials. While flammable materials may present a high risk; if the storage is secure without heat sources, the risk of a fire is very low. However, while pulled or torn carpeting may be a lower risk, the fact that it is in a high occupancy/traffic workplace, may increase the chance of someone tripping, making it highly probable. Probability places the risk in the proper context.
Individual perception must be carefully weighed against what could “reasonably” occur.
If the supervisor reasonably believes there is a good chance that this hazard could result in an accident, a weighting of “+1” is entered into the table.
If the supervisor reasonably believes there is an average chance that this hazard could result in an accident, a weighting of “0” is entered into the table.
If the supervisor reasonably believes there is little to no chance that this hazard could result in an accident, a weighting of “-1” is entered into the table.
The Assessment Tool provides a “probability weighting” as a reference on the form.
The values given for Severity, Frequency and Probability are added together:
A + B + C = D
D = Significance
Significance will determine if the reported hazard is a Class A, Class B or Class C Hazard
The supervisor then needs to determine if training is in place or needs to be in place to address this hazard.
Supervisors need to ask themselves whether controls are in place for this hazard.
If training is not in place, but should be, or if controls are not in place or are not effective, a Class A or even B Hazard needs to be addressed immediately.
The person who completes the Workplace Assessment Tool signs and dates at the bottom of the form.
Step 2 – Hazard Response Form – Responding to the Worker who reported the hazard
Once the supervisor/manager has completed the assessment and determined how to address the concern, the supervisor must respond back to the worker who reported it. Providing feedback on the concern is reasonable and important as it allows all parties to feel ownership in improving the safety and health of their workplace. By providing a response, supervisors/managers are also demonstrating their own due diligence.
Some hazards many be simple in nature, however, their corrective actions may be quite complex and beyond the expertise and authority of the supervisor. In those circumstances, further analysis and action by a higher level of supervision may be needed. The worker who reported the hazard still needs to receive feedback of the action within a reasonable timeframe. Regardless of whether the hazard is corrected immediately or has to be escalated to another level, the worker must have feedback no longer than one week after they provided the Hazard Reporting Form.
The supervisor/manager response is identified in Step 2 of the Hazard Response Form. The supervisor/manager notes the date that a hazard was reported to them and identifies the first and last name of the worker who reported it.
The supervisor/manager identifies in Step 2 the date they are responding back to the worker. The response date must be within 7 days of the receiving the Hazard Response Form even though the hazard may not yet be corrected (the assessment may still be in process or evaluated, it may have been escalated etc.). The name of the supervisor /manager completing the Hazard Response Form must identify themselves; this person may be different than the supervisor/manager who received the Hazard Reporting Form. It is important to identify the name of a different supervisor as it establishes who has responsibility to correct the concern. The response to the reported hazard and the corrective action(s) taken mare identified in the space on the form. This response needs to be as specific and detailed as possible; otherwise the worker may not fully understand what actions are being taken.
Step 2B – Conditions Caused by Third Parties
During the assessment, the supervisor/manager should also consider whether reported hazards are not the responsibility of the supervisor/manager or division that the hazard was reported to.
Consider that operations of one division in a works yard or civic center may interfere or inadvertently create a hazard with the operations of another division. Parking or driving of vehicles through a yard or placement of stored materials or file boxes in an office are two examples.
Furthermore, operations and maintenance of city buildings is not under the jurisdiction of every city division. In many cases, divisions are “tenants” of “landlords” like the Facilities Management Division or are in leased space owned by a third party. In these circumstances, correction of the hazard is the responsibility of the Third Party (other city division or organization outside of the City). In these situations, the supervisor/manager must complete Step 2B which identifies what group now has responsibility, the name of the third party contact as well as a work order number if applicable. The supervisor/manager also identifies the action taken by the third party to correct the concern.
As those hazards may be complex, while the solution may be known, the actual corrective action taken by the Third Party may not be immediate. In that event, the response should still be noted on the form. However, the supervisor/manager who received the report only signs and dates the form when they have received confirmation from the Third Party that they have corrected the concern.
Regardless if the reported hazard is the creation of a third party, the supervisor/manager who receives the report form must still perform the workplace assessment to identify if the concern is a heath and safety hazard. Only by doing so can the supervisor/manager draw the attention of the third party to the level of risk so they can prioritize having the concern addressed. The supervisor/manager whose employee reported the hazard still is responsible to follow up with the third party if corrective action is not taken as needed.
Once the hazard has been assessed and the supervisor/manager has completed either Step 2A (supervisor’s response) or Step 2B (Third Party) on the form, copies of the Hazard Response Form are then sent to:
- the worker who first reported the issue
- the local JHSC Co-Chairs or H&S Reps (if applicable)
- the supervisor’s supervisor
- the supervisor’s own file for reference
- The reporting worker does not want to complete the form?
The legislation does not compel workers to put reported hazards in writing. Additionally, this reporting protocol is a tool to assist the workplace parties, not a policy requirement. However, it is in the worker’s best interest to report in writing. Describing the hazard in writing provides a much better focus for the supervisor/manager to work from. Supervisors/managers are recommended to strongly suggest that workers complete the form when they report hazards.
If the worker still declines, the supervisor is still recommended to complete the assessment tool and written follow up on Step 2A or 2B.
- What if the reporting worker does not agree with the assessment and solution of the supervisor?
The worker would then follow the normal avenue of bringing the issue to the local H&S Rep or JHSC for their consideration (see flow chart on last page).
Occpational Health & Safety Coordinating Committee (OHSCC), September 29, 2009
OHSCC Reviewed: June 23, 2015 & April 26, 2016
September 29, 2009
Reviewed by OHSCC
April 26, 2016