Safety Office Strategic Plan 2017-2020

As a reporting unit to the Secretariat of the University of Waterloo, the Safety Office supports Waterloo’s strategic goals by delivering effective, efficient and comprehensive health, safety and environmental program services.

By focusing on a series of projects, our 2017-2020 Strategic Plan aims to improve the environment in which members of the University community undertake their daily activities.​ As you read through the Strategic Plan below, we encourage you to pay specific attention to the list of projects related to each objective.

    Our purpose

    The Safety Office at the University of Waterloo is dedicated to:

    • Supporting the achievement of the University’s strategic goals through the delivery of effective, efficient, and comprehensive health, safety and environmental program services;
    • Facilitating successful endeavours by all members of the University community by providing advice on establishing the healthiest and safest work and educational environment reasonably attainable; and
    • Ensuring that persons accountable for University operations are fully and properly informed of the legal and regulatory health, safety and environmental compliance risks and requirements, and providing advice to those persons on those risks and requirements,

    all through a prudent use of resources and at costs reasonably consistent with those incurred by comparable institutions.

    Our 2017-2020 Strategic Plan

    The Safety Office will realize its purposes by:

    Leading the development, implementation and management of a comprehensive health, safety and environment management system (HSEMS) which supports the achievement of the university’s strategic goals, principally in the following core areas:

    1. By integrating principles of the internal responsibility system (IRS) in everything we do, foster and maintain a health, safety and environment management system (HSEMS) that addresses accountability, risk management and legal compliance.


    • Identify methods to engage senior management in the HSEMS and facilitate effective leadership related to safety and risk management functions.
    • Establish Executive Council training on OHS legislative obligations and IRS.
    • Seek collaborative opportunities to optimize operations and efficiency, as well as safety, during the development of programs, standards and procedures, particularly in the areas of:
      • Management of change process
      • Contractor safety management
      • Lab Design and operations
      • Safety responsibilities in performance appraisal process
    • Conduct review of HSEMS to build on successes and address residual risk in the management system, integrating principles of CSA Z1000 and CSA Z1002.
    • Identify strategies to effectively communicate health and safety responsibilities during onboarding.

    2. Establish and manage occupational health and safety programs that are based in the principles of risk identification, assessment and control, and in addition to meeting compliance requirements, strive to achieve best practices in the prevention of incidents.


    • Employ a continuous improvement approach by establishing annual new program development priorities, review schedules and monitoring functions within applicable programs.
    • Conduct a training review, including the evaluation of delivery systems, competencies and quantitative and qualitative needs and outcomes, and make subsequent improvements to training programs.
    • Strengthen the Emergency Response Plan through development of hazard-specific plans, procedures and exercises.
    • Build a suite of occupational hygiene services available to optimize resources used to address concerns.
    • Work with strategic partners to harmonize programs and training opportunities related to workplace violence and harassment.
    • Renew Simplified Risk Assessment with Waterloo Fire Rescue to address gaps in fire safety education.
    • Implement process for compliance with WHMIS 2015.

    3. Support transformational research and teaching through the management of risk by establishing standards and risk assessment practices in laboratories, studios, shops, fieldwork and other like facilities and equipment, with a particular concern for biosafety, radiation, lasers, x-rays, nanomaterials and chemicals.


    • Update Fieldwork risk management program and resources.
    • Build laboratory safety training resources (e.g. videos, online modules) aimed at specific hazards.
    • Review and develop risk assessment tools and resources.

    4. Administer an occupational incident management, Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB) claims and Early & Safe Return to Work programs with the aim to prevent future incidents and minimize frequency, severity and cost of work-related incidents that do occur.


    • With campus partners, review and update Disability Management and Early & Safe Return to Work Programs.
    • Investigate the resourcing of a position to support incident management and communications.
    • Integrate corrective actions and lessons learned into programs and practices campus-wide.

    5. Manage environmental protection measures, the disposal of hazardous waste and the transportation of dangerous goods.


    • Minimize potential losses, regulatory and sustainability issues related to hazardous waste through training on laboratory waste handling practices.
    • Support implementation of chemical inventory system to meet compliance objectives and establish institutional reporting/tracking.
    • Increase staffing support and cross-training within the Environmental Safety Facility (ESF).

    6. Advise on personal safety strategies with a focus on grounds, facilities and events.


    • Review and develop Event risk management procedures for best practice.
    • Work with University of Waterloo Special Constable Service to establish campus personal safety auditing schedule.

    Serve as the principal University resource for HSE subject matter expertise and act as that resource in a professional, reliable, courteous and timely manner, maintaining core values of collaboration, respect and trust, delivered through a service-oriented culture.

    ​1. Engage in service delivery that supports health and safety coordinators, representatives and committees to facilitate an effective internal responsibility system, and resolves concerns with sound judgment, tact, integrity and diplomacy.


    • Identify and offer appropriate orientation, development and recognition opportunities for members of University JHSC’s/HSR/H&S representatives.
    • Increase impact of the Lab Safety Committee through project-based engagement.
    • Develop departmental H&S Committee resources.

    2. Establish and monitor OHS compliance record-keeping protocols and requirements, and ensure that records are available through authoritative sources to regulators and key stakeholders.


    • Review WatCLASS retention schedules, including electronic records databases.
    • Adopt version control practices for program/standard documents, forms and templates.
    • In consultation with the Secretariate, establish a guideline pertaining to confidentiality of information with respect to WSIB claims administration.
    • Collaborate with partners to implement short and long-term strategies to ensure training records are readily available to unit-level management.
      • Short term: develop and utilize reporting tools and existing myHRinfo records to provide accurate training reports on an ad-hoc basis.
      • Long term: utilize new HRMS system training administration tools to provide administrative, manager and employee access and reporting options.
    • Establish measurement criteria to enable reporting on proactive leading indicators with a goal of improving safety culture.

    3. Entrench quality and innovation in service delivery and communications to improve effectiveness and efficiency, and optimize resources in the planning and execution of responsibilities.


    • Ensure that formal and informal communications are timely, effective, thorough and consistent by establishing document and communications guidelines.
      • Internal staff information-sharing expectations.
      • Consistent stakeholder communication of legislative and program changes.
    • Review technical and technological resources to optimize productivity.
    • Train staff in effective communication practices.
    • Continue to improve website and program structure for ease of use, accessibility and quality by applying streamlined and consistent architecture, document format and accessible content practices.
    • Introduce participant feedback tool into training courses.
    • Apply principles of consistency and quality to incident management procedures.

    4. Foster staff professional and personal development and well-being while cultivating teamwork and a continuous learning environment:


    • Support staff achievement under Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) and Canadian Registered Safety Professional (CRSP) designations.
    • Identify professional development opportunities to ensure adequate subject matter expertise, and subscribe to appropriate opportunities and resources.
    • Develop competencies in CSA Z1000 and Z1002.
    • Provide cross-training and ongoing professional development to ensure adequate continuity of services in all program areas, particularly related to Laboratory Safety Programs.