When you own a business, regardless of its size, the idea of due diligence is essential to keep in mind. “Due diligence” is a legal term that means “reasonable steps that a person takes to satisfy a legal requirement.” When it comes to health and safety, due diligence requires taking all reasonable steps to protect workers from harm. “All reasonable steps” is based on the level of judgment and care that a person would reasonably be expected to do under the circumstances.
Exercising due diligence means taking proper care of the people and the business you run. It is about protecting the company’s assets, both physical and human. “Due diligence” is an essential legal defense for a person charged under occupational health and safety legislation. If set, a defendant may be found not guilty if they can prove that due diligence was exercised. In other words, the defendant must be able to prove that all reasonable precautions were taken to protect the health and safety of workers.
If an organization cannot provide sufficient evidence of due diligence, it can be held liable for workplace incidents. While the defence of due diligence is only available in administrative offences (depending on the jurisdiction), it is also important in civil and criminal proceedings. Due diligence is a legal concept, and the notion of having practiced proper due diligence is subject to a court’s ruling after an incident has already occurred based on the evidence your company can provide.
Why use a checklist for due diligence?
Simply put, a checklist is a list of items for consideration. People accept the results of a completed checklist as reliable and accurate. Thus, it is used as a memory aid or a job tool to ensure all issues have been considered.
A due diligence checklist is a guide for employers and supervisors to help them meet their safety obligations. This checklist can assist you in identifying any gaps/areas of improvement and allow for responsibility to be assigned to reduce/eliminate the identified gaps. It covers the documents that should be maintained, training requirements, disciplinary procedures, and other vital requirements. It can be used to help your business maintain a precautionary level of safety in the workplace.
What’s in a Due Diligence Checklist?
The safety due diligence checklist is intended to help employers determine if they have sufficient documentation of an effective OH&S program. Other due diligence factors to consider include health and safety performance in the workplace, the employer’s history of compliance with the Workers Compensation Act and OH&S Regulation, the degree of hazard associated with violations, etc.
To help you gauge how you’re doing, here is a simple checklist of questions:
- Are you accurately documenting incidents and action items relating to them?
- Do you have a company and/or a site-specific safety management system that accurately reflects the work activities that you are doing?
- Do you have documented evidence that your employees are trained in safety procedures or policy documents (simply reading and acknowledging a policy or procedure is insufficient)?
- In addition to online training (if you use it), are you providing workplace-specific and practical training to your employees (even in topics such as WHMIS)?
- Are all your hazards identified, and are your reports and corrective actions documented?
- Can you prove that your hazard identification reports have not been altered since they were completed?
- Are you documenting and communicating all safety meetings and communications?
- Can you prove that you are using the hierarchy of controls to either eliminate or control hazards?
- Are all levels of management accountable for health and safety, and are they fulfilling their obligations?
- Are you properly vetting your contractors and subcontractors to ensure they can fulfill their legal obligations?
- Does your safety management system follow the “Plan-Do-Check-Act” approach?
How you can use the Due Diligence Checklist?
Digital technologies have transformed how we live and work, which is undoubtedly true in the case of completing inspections. Using digitizing assessment in completing the due diligence check, for instance, can provide your site supervisor and manager with the valuable asset of tracking online results of site-specific due diligence assessment outcomes and ensuring all reasonable precautions to comply were taken promptly by employees or co-workers.
How Field Eagle can help
Field Eagle is a software data collection tool that can be used to create your digital checklists. Collect more accurate data, and do so faster. Compile all the results and view them at any time. Request a Consultation today!