New tool measures workplace safety systems and culture

Policies and procedures vs. real-life experiences

Internal Responsibility System Climate Assessment and Audit Tool – or IRS CAAT Guideline

How safe do you really feel in your workplace? What’s your day-to-day experience when it comes to health and safety?

Enter the CAAT – or Climate Audit and Assessment Tool – a new way to measure workplace health and safety systems and culture. The tool is being piloted in Ontario to provide mining operations with a snapshot of how their internal responsibility system is functioning within their unique systemic and cultural ‘ecosystem.’

Following extensive consultation and intensive study, Ontario is improving the health and safety of underground mine workers by accepting and acting on all 18 consensus recommendations made in the Mining Health, Safety and Prevention Review’s 2015 final report.

“The recommendations provide a roadmap for improving health and safety in Ontario’s underground mines,” says Mike Parent, Mining Director at Workplace Safety North (WSN). “We have new mining safety legislation regarding water and traffic management plans, high-visibility workwear, and risk assessments.

“The Review also recommended the development of an internal responsibility system best practice guideline,” says Parent, “So, WSN developed this strategic initiative in partnership with the Institute for Work and Health and the Ontario Mining Association.”

The Internal Responsibility System Climate Assessment and Audit Tool – or IRS CAAT – was developed specifically as a response to the need for Ontario mining companies to gain a better understanding of how their IRS was working. The IRS CAAT can identify the current state of a company’s IRS and pinpoint areas of strength and need.

“The tool is a way for the Ontario mining sector to measure systems and culture at the same time to determine strengths and opportunities for improvement,” says Cindy Schiewek, WSN Culture, Learning and Development Specialist. “No one has ever done this before.

“Not only can we identify areas of discrepancy between expectation and action from a systemic standpoint, but we can also zero in on workplace health and safety culture. It’s one thing to say, ‘We have a strong workplace safety culture,’ this tool gives mining operations a way to prove it,” adds Schiewek.

Benefits of assessing workplace safety systems and culture

  • Identify current perceptions around how people feel, think, and behave, with regard to health and safety issues and measure this against an organization’s corresponding health and safety system expectations.

  • Categorize and profile factors that contribute to workplace culture, allowing for the development and implementation of a customized, effective action plan unique to each organization.

  • Ability to reassess and measure improvements and effectiveness through future assessments.

“Every workplace is different,” says Schiewek, “and this tool gives you a customized look at the specific occupational health and safety strengths and challenges unique to your organization.”

Step-by-step guide to assessment

Get your results within two months         

  1. Contact WSN to discuss project.

  2. Agreement set in place to proceed.

  3. One week prior to assessment and audit, let your staff know about what to expect with WSN visit, and ask for their support and participation.

  4. On-site assessment and audit takes two to three days and includes:

    • Focus groups, one-on-one meetings, electronic surveys, on-site orientation

    • Kick-off meeting with senior management and the Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) or Health and Safety Representative

    • Assessment and audit takes place in parallel

    • Brief end of day meeting on final day

    • Follow-up date set to discuss results

  5. Within two to four weeks, the organization receives the results.

  6. One to two weeks later, WSN presents results to senior management, JHSC or Representative, and union representative, if applicable. A working group is elected to oversee the development of the action plan and strategies in response to the assessment; WSN facilitates this process.

  7. Your resulting action plan can take anywhere from six months to five years, depending on what your firm wants to work on. Please note, WSN is available as a resource throughout the entire process.

  8. One year later, plan for a follow-up and/or select a specific module to focus on.

For more information on improving your organization’s internal responsibility system, and helping improve workers’ daily experience of health and safety, contact:           

Cindy Schiewek CRSP, Culture, Learning, Development, and Audit Specialist – bilingual
705-474-7233 ext. 358 or


Internal Responsibility System Climate Assessment and Audit Tool – or IRS CAAT Guideline