Health and Safety Management Systems


What is a municipal health and safety management system?

  • a comprehensive approach involving management and workers,
  • an in-depth look at all aspects of a municipality’s operations from a health and safety viewpoint, and
  • an integral part of management and operations’ functions.

What is the purpose of a HSMS?

 Municipalities implement health and safety management systems to minimize the potential for injuries and illness by identifying hazards and controlling workers’ exposures to those hazards.

What are the benefits to having a health and safety management system?

  • Fewer injuries and illnesses, less equipment damage
  • Cost savings related to incidents
  • Improved work environment (culture)
  • Higher morale, lower staff turnover, grievances and absenteeism
  • Increased productivity
  • Higher facility reliability
  • Fewer complaints from residents

What are the elements of a municipal health and safety management system?

  1. Organizational Commitment
  2. Hazard Identification and Assessment
  3. Hazard Control
  4. Formal Workplace Inspections
  5. Orientation and Training
  6. Emergency Response Planning
  7. Accident/Incident Investigation
  8. Program Administration


How can management demonstrate commitment?

  • Committing resources (time and money)
  • Ensuring hazards are properly controlled
  • Touring work sites, talking to workers about health and safety
  • Including health and safety in performance appraisals
  • Following the rules
  • Participating in inspections, reviewing reports
  • Attending safety and joint health and safety committee meetings

What is hazard identification and assessment?

Hazard identification is a proactive activity that involves looking at all aspects of jobs to ensure that workplace hazards are recognized. Hazard assessment ranks those hazards in terms of risk.

What is hazard control?

Hazard control protects workers from illness and injuries by either eliminating or controlling identified hazards. If elimination of a hazard isn’t possible, there is a hierarchy of controls:

  1. engineering
  2. administrative
  3. personal protective equipment (PPE)

What are formal workplace inspections?

The purpose of formal workplace inspections is to monitor effectiveness of controls and to identify new hazards. Formal inspections also provide an opportunity to provide positive feedback. They are best done as a team, and include production of a written report and sharing of results.

What is orientation and training?

This element ensures workers know how to do their jobs without risk to themselves, their co-workers, or the public. Workers must be trained to be "competent workers". Orientations should be conducted by knowledgeable, qualified instructors and training records must be kept.

When should our municipality conduct worker orientation?

AMHSA recommend workers be oriented/trained on critical tasks as soon as possible (first day on site), and the rest of orientation within the employee’s first week of work. Critical items include health and safety, WHMIS, high-risk job-specific training, use of PPE, permits, and safe work practices/procedures for critical tasks.

What is emergency response planning?

The purpose of emergency response planning is to ensure efficient and appropriate action in the case of emergency, to minimize injury and reduce loss. Your municipality’s emergency response planning should be site-specific and include possible emergencies, individual responsibilities, evacuation and rescue procedures, emergency contacts, communication, and transportation of injured workers. Drills should be conducted, documented, results reviewed and procedures revised as appropriate.

What is the purpose of accident/incident investigation?

Accident/incident investigation identifies direct and indirect causes of incidents to prevent reoccurrence of similar incidents. Recommendations made as a result of investigation of incidents correct system problems/issues that allowed incidents to happen.

What is the basic investigation process?

  1. investigate as soon as injuries have been taken care of and all hazards have been removed
  2. collect information and interview witnesses
  3. analyze the information to determine causes
  4. write the report including recommendations
  5. follow up

What is program administration?

The purpose of program administration is to ensure ongoing record keeping, communication, and worker participation in the management system. It monitors and improves the effectiveness of the program.


What is a "hazard"?

A situation, condition, or behaviour from a physical, chemical, biological or psychological exposure that has the potential to cause harm.

Health Hazard:  Has the potential to cause an acute or chronic condition, illness or disease from exposure (e.g., noise, dust, heat).

Safety Hazard: Has the potential to cause immediate injury (e.g., shear points, working at heights).

What is a "risk"?

Risk is a combination of the probability of an injury or illness occurring, and its severity - the chance of injury, damage, or loss.

What is the difference between an "accident" and an "incident"?

“Accident” – an unplanned, uncontrollable event that results in physical harm to a person or damage to property or the environment.

“Incident” – an unplanned event that has or could have resulted in personal harm, property damage, damage to the environment, or loss.

“Incidents” include both accidents and near misses. Incidents are controllable.

What is the difference between a "direct cause" and an "indirect cause"?

In accident/incident investigation, direct causes are the unsafe practices/conditions that allowed the incident to occur. Indirect (root) causes are the underlying causes that contributed to the existence of those direct causes.

Training/More Information

How can I learn more about hazards?

How can I learn more about conducting formal inspections?

  • AMHSA offers a ½ day course on Formal Workplace Inspections
  • NEW: Formal Workplace Inpections is now available as an online course (click here for more details or to purchase)
  • AMHSA produced a video entitled Formal Workplace Inspections in 2008, that is available to members through our lending library or for purchase for $20.00.

How can I learn more about municipal health and safety orientation?

  • AMHSA has an Orientation: Train-the-Trainer course.
  • AMHSA produced a video entitled Avoid the OH&S Blues: Orientation to Municipal Health and Safety. It is available for purchase for $20.00.

Where can I find more information on accident/incident investigation?

  • AMHSA produced a video entitled Investigation of Incidents in 2008, that is available to members through our lending library or for purchase for $20.00. 
  • AMHSA offers a ½ day course on Accident/Incident Investigation.
  • NEW: Accident/Incident Investigations is now available as an online course (click here for more details or to purchase)
  • An e-learning course is available on the Alberta Labour website.

How can I learn more about Health and Safety Management Systems?

Where can I get sample documents to support my health and safety management system?

Sample directives, forms, and links to relevant information are available through AMHSA’s searchable SafetyNet online library