Case Study: The Harboured Sports Grille
Safety is always a topic of conversation, but it needs to be more than a talk. It requires action and proactive vigilance to make sure that it’s enforced. Roughly five years ago there was a thriving sports bar on the Toronto waterfront area called The Harboured Sports Grille, and it is no longer open for business. After conducting several interviews with present and past employees, the Health and Safety consultant that was hired to conduct an evaluation calculated his conclusion on the state of the restaurant. There were several key violations to the Workplace Safety Acts, employee health standards and rife with poor business practices. After a failure to bring things up to code, the establishment has been closed since. But any failure is a chance to learn, and hopefully this can act as a lesson for better practices moving forward.
The number one violation was something that should have been reported long ago, but was only discovered upon the formal inspection. The establishment had been storing things (signage, extra linens, seasonal decorations, etc.) above the kitchen’s walk-in fridge. And so workers were being asked to deposit or retrieve items from above the fridge, with the only way to access that area being through the use of a rickety, temporarily propped-up ladder. The ladder would sit in front of the fridge door, a total risk of collision imminent constantly. And most of the employees would protest against having that task, but due to both limited English and limited understanding of the Ontario Ministry of Labour procedures, the complaints went largely unheard. Thankfully there happened to be a construction safety consultant also participating in the inspection, who deemed the ladder to be unsafe in its practice, and the material storage itself to be a fire hazard and equally unacceptable. It is fortuitous that these inspections prevented any injuries, as it was only a matter of time. An accident can happen in a split second, and stay with a person for a lifetime.
Number two on the red flag list was the restaurants arbitrary and favouritism-heavy management hierarchies. Great employees, even those with families, would be on the much lower end for shifts available, wages or even benefits. Whereas the other, smaller group of employees (all female, except for the male management) were given preferential choices, hours and incentives by comparison. Workers are entitled to a workplace free from bullying, harassment or ill treatment of any kind. This kind of destructive behavior can not only cause a high turnover rate and poor employee performances, but it can be very harmful to the deeper, psychological well-being of anyone.
It’s always a shame to hear about an institution that’s not meeting the acceptable standards we hope are always upheld. It thus is bittersweet when they receive a fair judgment and are sentenced for their infractions. Hopefully we can take this as an opportunity to learn from their mistakes and collectively grow past it. It’s fortunate for the employee that health and safety consulting exists to allow the proceedings to take place that bring justice and resolution to worker’s grievances. Everyone should have their voice heard, especially when it comes to maintaining safety and happiness at work.
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