Monday, December 23, 2013

Emergency Plans

Be Prepared!
Do you have an Emergency Plan at work and at home?  Winter is here; extreme cold weather and winter storms kill more Canadians than tornadoes, lightning, floods, hurricanes and heat waves combined! The cold and winter storms can disrupt your power supply, make travel dangerous, and can pose other risks to your personal safety. 
Emergency plans should include a pandemic or influenza plan to address workplace illness, staff shortages and the health and wellness of your workers and your families.
At home you should stock up on supplies for flu and cold season; put  a safety kit in your car that includes a blanket and candles.
You should be prepared in your home and workplace for emergencies.  Emergency Management Ontario provides numerous resources to assist you with your workplace Emergency Management Programs.  The following checklist will assist you in the development of an Emergency Plan for the workplace: 
1.       Assess the Hazards in your workplace
2.       Learn how to be informed of an emergency
3.       Develop a workplace emergency plan
4.       Develop a Workplace Communications Plan
5.       Ensure you have staff trained in First Aid/CPR
6.       Prepare a Workplace Emergency Survival Kit
7.       Put your Emergency Plan into Action – Practice and Maintain
8.       Develop an Evacuation Plan and Practice it
9.       Learn how to “Shelter-in-Place” – remaining indoors in your place of work
10.   Determine if there is anyone with Special Needs
a.       Develop specific Emergency Plans for Employees with special needs (disabilities) (this is in compliance with the AODA Emergency Management criteria under the Employment Standard and is legislated to be complied with by January 1, 2012)
11.   Develop a plan for the evacuation and emergency management of your customers (as legislated under the AODA – General Guidelines) by January 1, 2012
12.   Develop an Influenza/Pandemic Plan in your workplace.

For your home, be prepared for an emergency such as a power outage, snow days where you are snowed in, medical emergencies, special needs etc.  Assess your home to determine your needs:
1.       What are some of the hazards in your community?  How might they affect you in your home?
2.       Learn where to get information from about an emergency
3.       Develop your family emergency plan
4.       Prepare an emergency survival kit for your  home and your  vehicles
5.       Have a Pet Smart Emergency Plan
6.       Practice and update your plan regularly
7.       Learn how to evacuate your home in an emergency
8.       Learn how to “Shelter-in-Place” – remaining indoors in your home
9.       Consider special needs members of your family may have and develop plans with them in mind.
10.   Prepare for influenza/pandemics and other medical emergencies

With the holidays approaching, winter weather on the horizon and travel to family and friends, it is important to plan ahead for unforeseen emergencies.  Don’t be caught out in the cold – plan for the unexpected.  Be Safe!  Happy Holidays!

Lynne Bard, BA (Honours), C.H.R.P., CES
Human Resources, Safety & Risk Management Experts
Taking the Complexity out of Compliance
Beyond Rewards Inc.
Phone: 519-821-7440
Cell: 519-830-7480

Monday, December 16, 2013

Temporary Foreign Workers

Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP)

The Canadian Government had announced in the Economic Action Plan of 2013 that there were plans in the place to make reforms to the Temporary Foreign Workers program (TFWP). This wasn’t expected in the near future however because typically government decisions aren’t made very quickly. On April 29th word came down from the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development  and the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism that they were announcing the changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers program.
There have been two situations that have spurred these changes to the TFWP within the last year. The first cause is from British Columbia this past fall. A Chinese company called HD mining was planning to import as many as 200 workers from China to mine a proposed project. When Canadians caught wind of this they were not pleased, and so the Government started to have a look at the Temporary Foreign Workers policy with the intent to revise.
In April this year, the Canadian public was outraged over the displacement of 45 Canadian employees to be replaced with 45 Temporary Foreign Workers. RBC has since issued a public apology and says it is making plans to provide these 45 resident employees with employment in Canada, but people have asked when is it going to stop?
The original intent of the TFW program was to fill the labour shortage gaps in Canada temporarily until Canadian workers could be found to fill the positions. Canadian citizens are starting to wonder if Canadian companies have begun to abuse this program and are just bringing in Temporary Foreign Workers right away because they are cheaper work and keep wages and benefits low.
Not all of the changes are to take place immediately, but there are a couple changes that will be implemented effective immediately. These changes are:
-          Employers are required to pay Temporary Foreign Workers at the prevailing wage rate by removing the 5- 15% wage flexibility
-          The Accelerated Labour Market Opinion (LMO) process has been suspended
Other changes that will come into effect down the road are:
-          An increase in the Government’s authority to suspend and revoke work permits and Labour Market Opinions (LMOs) if the program is being misused.
-          Questions will be added to the employer LMO application to ensure that the TFWP is not used to facilitate the outsourcing of Canadian jobs
-          Ensure employers who rely on Temporary Foreign Workers have a firm plan in place to transition to a Canadian workforce over time through the LMO process
-          Introduce fees for employers for the processing of LMOs and increase the fees for work permits so that the taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the costs
-          Identify English and French as the only languages that can be used as a job requirement

The changes that were announced on April 29th have calmed some of the outrage, but not all of it. There is still the issue of the 300,000 plus Temporary Foreign Workers who are currently in Canada. The percentage of migrant workers in Canada has increased by a staggering 70% in the past 5 years 
So what will these changes actually mean for employers and business owners?
-          Increased costs due to higher fees and higher wages for Temporary Foreign Workers
-          Lengthier processing times due to suspension of Accelerated LMOs
-          Approvals will be harder to obtain as employers now have to provide a plan for replacing the TFWs with Canadian workers
For more information on recruitment best practices, assistance with your recruitment and outplacement needs; contact us at .
Lee-Anne Vandenberg
HR & Safety Consultant
Beyond Rewards

Monday, December 9, 2013

Scent Sensitivity

Scent Sensitivity

Scents in the workplace may affect employees' well-being. This is most common with the scents of shampoos and conditioners, perfumes, colognes, aftershaves, hairsprays, air fresheners, and cleaning agents. Where an employee has sensitivity to scents, exposure to them may result in a number of different symptoms, including headaches, shortness of breath, skin irritation, nausea, or fatigue. These environmental and multiple chemical sensitivities are considered to be disabilities and, as a result, employees may require workplace accommodation.

Employers that receive a complaint from an employee about scents in the workplace may want to meet with the employee to address the problem. This should be done in private and kept confidential. As the employer, you may want to request additional information from the employee with respect to his/her restrictions and it is within your rights to ask for medical documentation in support of these restrictions.

You may have to accommodate the employee even if the employee has not yet provided medical support for his/her restrictions.

Consider developing a scent-free policy for you workplace and educate all your employees about it. Make sure all employees know why the policy is needed and the health effects of scents. This training could be done by e-mail, newsletter or presentation. Address concerns openly and honestly. Stress the fact that the policy is being put into effect because of a medical condition not because of a dislike of a certain scent.

With tact and sensitivity, most human rights complaints by employees with scent sensitivity can be avoided.

Article by Jean Ridout, Operations Manager, Beyond Rewards
Beyond Rewards is a preeminent human resources, risk management, safety, health and training consulting firm based in Guelph, Ontario.  Contact Jean at

Monday, October 21, 2013

Need to know: Health & Safety

Need to know: Health and Safety

Health and safety is about preventing people from being harmed at work or becoming ill through work, the law states that we must not put ourselves; other workers or the public in danger and this applies to all businesses of all sizes.

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, a self employed person must abide by the sections of the act that pertain to them.

Self-employed people are required to notify a director of the Ministry of Labour, in writing, if they sustain an occupational injury or illness.

Outlined below are the OHSA obligations of an employer under the General Duties of Employers Clauses and Prescribed Duties of an Employer both under Section 25 & 26 of the act.  Please note that under the act, Self Employed Persons must follow (with necessary modifications the following sections of the act:

4.  Subsection 25 (1), clauses 26 (1) (c), (e), (f) and (g), subsection 33 (1) and sections 34, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 51, 52, 54, 57, 59, 60, 61, 62, 66, 67, 68 and 69, and the regulations in relation thereto, apply with necessary modifications to a self-employed person. 2001, c. 9, Sched. I, s. 3 (1).


General Duties of Employers

An Ontario employer, who is covered by the Act, has an obligation to:
  • instruct, inform and supervise workers to protect their health and safety [section 25(2)(a)];
  • assist in a medical emergency by providing any information–including confidential business information–to a qualified medical practitioner who requests the information in order to diagnose or treat any person [section 25(2)(b)];
  • Appoint competent persons as supervisors [section 25(2)(c)]. "Competent person" has a very specific meaning under the Act. He or she must:
    • be qualified–through knowledge, training and experience–to organize the work and its performance;
    • be familiar with the Act and the regulations that apply to the work being performed in the workplace;
    • know about any actual or potential danger to health and safety in the workplace; [ 1 ]
  • inform a worker, or a person in authority over a worker, about any hazard in the work and train that worker in the handling, storage, use, disposal and transport of any equipment, substances, tools, material, etc. [section 25(2)(d)];
  • help committees and health and safety representatives to carry out their duties [section 25(2)(e)];
  • not employ workers who are under such age as may be prescribed or knowingly permit underage persons to be in or near the workplace [sections 25(2)(f) and (g)]; [ 2 ]
  • take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker [section 25(2)(h)];
  • Post in the workplace a copy of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, as well as explanatory material prepared by the ministry that outlines the rights, responsibilities and duties of workers. This material must be in English and the majority language in the workplace [section 25(2)(i)];
  • Prepare a written occupational health and safety policy, review that policy at least once a year and set up a program to implement it [section 25(2)(j)]. [ 3 ] For guidance on how to do this, see Appendix A;
  • post a copy of the occupational health and safety policy in the workplace, where workers will be most likely to see it [section 25 (2)(k)];
  • Provide the joint committee or the health and safety representative with the results of any occupational health and safety report that the employer has. If the report is in writing, the employer must also provide a copy of the relevant parts of the report [section 25(2)(1)];
  • Advise workers of the results of such a report. If the report is in writing, the employer must, on request, make available to workers copies of those portions that concern occupational health and safety [section 25(2)(m)]; and
  • ensure that every part of the physical structure of the workplace can support all loads to which it may be subjected, in accordance with the Building Code Act and any standards prescribed by the ministry [section 25(1)(e)]. This duty also applies to the self-employed.


Prescribed Duties of Employers

The word "prescribed" appears in many sections of the Act. It means that a regulation must exist in order to put into effect the requirements of that section. Where there is no regulation, the requirements of that section are not in force.

Employers and supervisors have an obligation to know which regulations apply to their workplaces. If there is any uncertainty, an inspector should be consulted.

Here is a list of duties of employers, under the Act, which may be prescribed. The first seven duties also apply to the self-employed. Where there is a regulation, an employer must:

  1. provide and maintain in good condition any prescribed equipment, materials and protective devices [sections 25(1)(a) and (b)];
  2. ensure that the above are used in accordance with the regulations [section 25(1)(d)];
  3. carry out any measures and procedures that are prescribed for the workplace [section 25(1)(c)];
  4. keep and maintain accurate records, as prescribed, of the handling, storage, use and disposal of biological, chemical or physical agents [section 26(1)(c)];
  5. notify a director of the Ministry of Labour of the use or introduction into a workplace of any prescribed biological, chemical or physical agents [section 26(1)(e)];
  6. monitor, as prescribed, the levels of biological, chemical, or physical agents and keep and post accurate records of these levels [section 26(1)(f)];
  7. comply with a prescribed standard that limits the exposure of a worker to biological, chemical or physical agents [section 26(1)(g)];
  8. keep, maintain and make available to workers prescribed records of worker exposure to chemical, biological or physical agents [section 26(1)(d)];
  9. establish and maintain an occupational health service for workers, as prescribed [sections 26(1)(a) and (b)];
  10. provide prescribed medical surveillance programs and safety-related medical examinations and tests, for the benefit of workers [sections 26(1)(h) and (i)]; [ 4 ]
  11. ensure, where prescribed, that only workers who have taken any prescribed medical examinations, tests or X-rays and who have been found physically fit to work, be allowed to work or be in a workplace [section 26(1)(j)];
  12. where so prescribed, provide a worker with written instructions on the measures and procedures to be taken for his or her protection [section 26(1)(k)]; and
  13. Carry out any prescribed training programs for workers, supervisors and committee members [section 26(1)(l)].

When hiring contractors or self-employed persons they must provide a copy of  WSIB Certificate and insurance for general liability to you or sign WSIB exemption form - 1158A General Independent Operators Questionnaire.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Psychologically Healthy Workers are Better Workers

Psychologically Healthy Workers are Better Workers

It is not uncommon for the workplace environment to be characterized by volatile economic conditions and repeated organizational change that is necessary to adapt to frequently changing technologies and increased global competition. Workers are exposed to stress and anxiety when trying to cope with increased workloads and time pressures resulting from this complex environment. Organizations experience many negative consequences arising from psychologically unhealthy workers. These consequences include turnover, absenteeism, performance issues, decreased morale, high disability claims and the risk of increased injury rates.

To address this reality, a new voluntary Canadian standard on psychological health and safety was released in January 2013. The goal of this standard is to prevent psychological harm and promote psychological health and safety in the workplace. While this standard is voluntary, experts predict it will become incorporated into occupational health and safety laws and worker’s compensation. The standard provides tools and information on developing and maintaining a psychologically healthy and safe workplace.
Companies that provide a psychologically healthy and safe workplace benefit from enhanced productivity, decreased costs related to ill health, improved employee engagement, and are better able to attract and retain talent. These benefits can have a significant impact on the bottom line.

What can business owners do to provide a psychologically healthy and safe workplace for their employees?

  • ·         Promote a workplace culture characterized by support, respect and belongingness
  • ·         Enhance mental health knowledge  – including warning signs and misconceptions
  • ·         Provide resilience or stress management training to workers – particularly to those in managerial roles as they are at a higher risk for psychological health issues due to work/life imbalance
  • ·         Provide staff with an Employee Assistance Program to assist in finding resolutions for concerns or incidents – these programs have become increasingly more affordable for small business owners
  • ·         Support work/life balance – for example, by implementing flexible schedule arrangements
  • ·         Provide accommodations to support individuals with mental health issues at work

Monday, October 7, 2013

Dare to Dream, Live to Lead! – Do you have what it takes to be a Leader!

Dare to Dream, Live to Lead! – Do you have what it takes to be a Leader!

Leaders! A good leader is the one who is influential enough to get others to follow them willingly. They have a vision; they have a dream and the passion to pursue it. They have analytical skills, a decision-making ability and a go-getter attitude. They dream big and have the grit to bring it into reality. They possess virtues like integrity, dedication, fairness and an open mind to greet new ideas and innovate.

Are all managers’ good leaders and teachers?

This question brings us to the concept of corporate leadership that highlights the role of effective leadership in the growth and success of an organization. Managers need to possess leadership skills like planning, organizing, delegating and effective communication. 

"Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right thing. But when the line between the two blurs, managers become excellent leaders and leaders become effective managers.

Be it a small firm of fewer than twenty employees, a multinational company of a thousand professionals or a country of millions, all is organizations. And leadership has a big role to play in directing an organization's resources on the path of progress and to the safety of workers.
Effective leaders are those who have the ability to listen, think, foresee, understand and interpret the Health and Safety Act. An effective leader, grows the organization not only through increased productivity and increased bottom line but through safe work practices that they illicit in their day to day activities and through a thorough understanding of the responsibilities of everyone in the workplace – your internal responsibility system or IRS.

The new Health and Safety law requires all leaders such as managers and supervisors to be trained so that they fully understand the Occupational Health and Safety Act and their responsibilities by the beginning of 2014.  It is recommended in addition to Health and Safety Training for Supervisors and Managers that they also be trained in Cert 1 (basic Health and Safety) and Cert 2 (company specific) so that they better understand the Health and Safety Committee and/or Health and Safety Representative(s) responsibilities. For the full write-up on this law visit Health and Safety Ontario web site.

Article by Jean Ridout, Operations Manager, Beyond Rewards

Monday, September 30, 2013

Do's and Don'ts of Firing

Tip 1: Get Help: Utilize the Backing of your Organization
Tip 2: Plan the Logistics: Where, When, How Long, Etc.
Tip 3: Expect the Unexpected
Tip 4: Prepare Yourself Emotionally
Tip 5: Control the Interview
Tip 6: Give Clear Explanations
Tip 7: Be Professional
Tip 8: Respond to the Employee as a Person
Tip 9: Congratulate Yourself: Review your Performance and Move on
Tip 10: Some Do’s and Don’ts
·        Terminate in the first ten minutes of the conversation. Avoid a long build-up to soften the blow because this will often only confuse and cloud the message.
·        Be clear and answer questions. Make sure the employee understands that they’re being terminated. Once you’ve explained the situation, let the employee ask questions.
·        Let your employee respond. Let the employee speak their mind. Acknowledge any valid points and tell the employee that you appreciate their input and candidness.
·        End on a positive note. Thank the employee for their contributions and wish them luck in the future. When the meeting is over, stand up and shake their hand.
·        Expect the best out of yourself, this situation, and the response of the employee.
·        Rehearse what you will say and how you conduct the meeting if possible.
·        Put yourself in the employee’s shoes, then do what you feel is right.
·        Specify clearly why the employee is being terminated and the effective date and time of the termination.
·        Inform the employee of any rights or entitlements that they may have coming.
·        Ensure the return of any property that is the employers.
·        Cover all areas of security, including computer passwords, access to company property or data, and physical security of the job site and other employees.
·        Ask the employee if he or she understands the reasons for the termination.
·        Focus your discussion on performance related issues.
·        Arrange for the employee to remove personal effects in private.
·        If possible, offer the employee an opportunity to resign.
·        Document the termination conference.

·        Don’t give employees false hope and say you’ll help them find a job.
·        Don’t say, “I’m sure you’re not going to have any trouble.
·        Don’t pass the buck and say this firing was not your idea.
·        Don’t give platitudes and say, “you’ll feel better when you sleep on it.”
·        Don’t say, “I feel really bad about this.” Saying these things only makes the situation worse.
·        Don’t get defensive.
·        Don’t interrupt, contradict or try to defend yourself or the company. Arguing will only create resentment and frustration on the part of the employee.
·        Don’t assess blame or make apologies. There’s no reason to blame the employee or the company for the termination. Just explain that the company’s needs don’t match the employee’s particular skills.
·        Don’t apologize, you can express regret that the employment relationship didn’t work out, but don’t apologize.
·        Don’t debate with the employee. Give honest answers, but don’t debate.
·        Don’t make value judgments or attempt to analyze the reasons for dismissal. Cite the reasons briefly and factually.
·        Don’t take responsibility for the failure. You may want to simply express regret that the opportunity did not work out.
·        Don’t use words like “incompetent” or “dishonest”. Focus on performance.
·        Don’t offer advice. Listen respectfully, but don’t offer advice or recriminations.
·        Don’t discuss the termination with anyone other than the employee and those directly involved.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Human Factors Influencing Safety in the Workplace

Safety is expensive, but an accident is even more costly.  All organizations, all business owners, all managers, supervisors and workers in all workplaces need to understand the effect of work performed on the human body and how we influence the demands of the work we do through human interaction.   Both of these things relate to the correlation between the worker and the demands of the work they do, known as ergonomics and human factors. 

Human factors refer to environmental, human and individual characteristics, organizational and job factors which influence the behaviour at work in a way which can affect health and safety.   Three interrelated aspects must be considered in assessing human factors in correlation to safety incidents: the job, the individual and the organization.

The job assessment looks at the nature of the tasks, the workload, the working environment, the design, display and controls, and the role procedures play on the job.  The individual assessment looks at the workers competencies, skills, personality, attitude, and risk perception.  Identify what individual characteristics can be changed and what are fixed.  Additionally, the organizations work patterns, culture, resources, communications, and leadership, policies, and programs  are some of the organizational influences on behaviour and need to be looked at in the review of the job design. 

In summary, human factors identify what people are being asked to do (the task and characteristics), who is doing it (the individual and their competencies) and where they are working (the organization and its attributes).   A good safety management system includes human factor assessments in a similar way to any other risk management program, categorizing human failure with the different causes and influencing factors as well as prevention strategies to reduce the failures. 

There are three types of human failure (unsafe acts) that often lead to major workplace accidents: 

·         Errors (slips/lapses) or unintentional actions like forgetting to complete a certain step in a transaction or process.

·         Mistakes (also errors) but of judgment or decision-making where we do the wrong thing but believe it to be right. 

·         Violations or intentional errors such as taking shortcuts or non-compliance with procedures.

Managing human failure is essential to preventing occupational accidents both minor and major as well as ill health and maintaining the reputation and potential loss of revenues for the organization. 

Major incidents frequently involve human error of operators or maintenance personnel with the underlying reasons for the accident stemming from the responsibility of those more senior in the organization’s inadequacies in competency assurance systems, poorly designed equipment, or lack of resources or training that influence the behaviours of everyone in the organization, leading to human error.   We cannot just address safety through a foggy lens that behavioral safety programs are an alternative to ensuring that adequate engineering and safety management system are in place in the workplace; they need to work hand in hand together and be adequately managed, but not until technical and systems issues have been addressed and it can be assumed that accidents are due to cultural and behavioral factors. 

Although great strides and advances have been made in safety over the past decade, major accidents are still occurring due to failures in safety program design, implementation and management. 

The success of an organization is achieved through high productivity and quality while ensuring the health and safety of its workers combined with best work practices and systems to achieve these goals.  The best work systems include skilled workforces, well-designed jobs that are aligned with individual abilities improving health and safety and ensuring a better managed and more effective organization.

Lynne Bard, BA (Honours), C.H.R.P., CES
Human Resources, Safety & Risk Management Experts
Taking the Complexity out of Compliance
Beyond Rewards Inc.
Phone: 519-821-7440
Cell: 519-830-7480

Monday, September 16, 2013

Understanding the Training Requirements Under WHMIS Regulation

Understanding the Training Requirements Under WHMIS Regulation

By law, every employer is solely responsible for ensuring their employees are adequately trained in WHMIS. This includes identifying if the workplace requires WHMIS training or not. Under Regulation 860 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, WHMIS training is required for all employees who are exposed to or likely to be exposed to a hazardous material or controlled product found at the workplace. This definition includes employees who do not use any controlled products, but who have physical access to them.

The definition of controlled products can be confusing to many employers especially as the distinction of a product can change based on the quantity purchased or the distribution methods used. Regulation 860 outlines that an employer shall assess all biological and chemical agents found at the workplace to determine if they are in fact hazardous. This can be particularly difficult when dealing with the example of bleach: when purchased in bulk, bleach is a controlled product; when purchased at the grocery store marketed for home use, bleach does not require WHMIS labelling. This holds true as well when transferring products: some products do not require WHMIS labelling when left in the container they were purchased in, but by transferring them into new/smaller containers WHMIS labelling is required and therefore WHMIS training is necessary.  Employers can save their workplaces from having to comply with WHMIS by eliminating unnecessary controlled products. This can be as easy as purchasing many cleaning products directly from the grocery store instead of in bulk from suppliers. While this may cost more money upfront, employers will save time and money in the long run by not having to comply with WHMIS regulation.

If employers find that they cannot eliminate their controlled products, training must be reviewed at least annually or more often if there is a change in product. The Canadian Department of Human Resources and Skills Development (HRSDC) provides employers with six training requirements to comply with the mandatory aspects of the WHMIS Regulation 860.  HRSDC states that employers must ensure that:

1.    The workplace education program is developed together with the health and safety representative/joint health and safety committee;

2.    Workers can recognize and describe the meaning of the WHMIS symbols and other symbols used in the workplace; 

3.     Workers understand the concept of WHMIS and the legislative requirements of labelling, MSDS and training; 

4.    The training program is workplace specific and is presented at a level that may be understood by all workers at the workplace; 

5.    A program is developed and implemented to train new workers and to retrain experienced workers regarding new information; and 

6.    The entire program is reviewed at least annually.

By ensuring that your training program has met all of the above requirements, your workplace will be fully compliant with the Occupational Health and Safety Act’s WHMIS Regulation.


Lynne Bard, BA (Honours), C.H.R.P., CES
Human Resources, Safety & Risk Management Experts
Taking the Complexity out of Compliance
Beyond Rewards Inc.
Phone: 519-821-7440
Cell: 519-830-7480