Monday, June 24, 2013

Using Technology to Aid in Emergency Management

Using Technology to Aid in Emergency Management

After the effects of Sandy, it is evident that with today’s inclement weather, workplace emergency preparedness for businesses small to large is a must.  From Business Continuity Plans to Inclement Weather Policies, all businesses need to plan ahead.  We will look at today’s technology – APS available on your androids, iPhones, tablets and online tools to utilize in making your development and implementation process less stressful.

A new “buzz” on technology has erupted into emergency management from smartphone technology APS, online toolkits to web mapping technologies that assist in the development and enhancement of situational awareness to create “Intelligent Emergency Management” solutions.  These tools and aids do not eliminate the need to develop written policies and procedures and workplace incident specific training and drills for the workplace. 

APPS on our iPhones, tablets and android devices and RSS Feeds to our emails are becoming a popular way of staying on top of everything in our lives.  Environment Canada provides e-blasts to let you know of upcoming and current weather conditions to help you prepare.  FEMA has developed an APP that provides preparedness information for different types of disaster situations.  A few other APPS for iPhones and Androids are:

·         NFPA 1600 2007 Edition – This app provides disaster/emergency management and business continuity programs for your business

·         Incident Control Room – software to plan and prepare emergency management/natural disaster planning

·         SituationWare – Real-time Emergency Planning and Emergency Response Planning tool.

·         Send Word Now – provides an alert response system platform to quickly execute and track alerts to landlines and mobile devices.

This list is in no way exhaustive nor an endorsement of the above APPS or tools.

Toolkits and templates are abundant on the internet, from free guides to purchased toolkits to finding a consultant to come in and complete the project for you.  These are all personal choices based on the amount of time and resources one has internally in the workplace. 

 Where to start is probably foremost on your mind.  Below are a few online resources and search criteria’s to begin your research into what needs to be in place in your workplace:

·         Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety – Emergency Planning

·         Centres for Disease Control and Prevention – Emergency Response Resources ***

·         Safework Newfoundland & Labrador – Emergency Preparedness’ and Response PDF

·         Public Safety Council – links to provincial Emergency Management Planning

With the increased number of storms, the velocity of these storms and severity of the damage we have seen across North America, advanced business continuity and emergency planning is critical. OHSA and OSHA both require businesses to have emergency planning and training in place that are incident specific.  They must include such things as:

·         Workplace Hazard Lists

·         Personal Response for Maintenance

·         Fuel Source Hazard Response

·         Housekeeping

·         Escape and Route Assignments

·         Procedures for Employees who Remain at the Scene

·         Procedures to Account for Employees

·         Rescue and Medical Duties

·         Procedures for Reporting Emergencies

·         Contacts for Further Information

·         Alarm Systems

·         Evacuation Procedures

·         Training of Workers and Emergency Personnel

This list is not exhaustive and will depend greatly on the results of your hazard assessment and gap analysis of current procedures, policies and training in your organizations.  Your emergency planning should also take into account persons with disabilities – clients, guests, employees and suppliers that may be onsite during an emergency.  In Ontario – The AODA requires a review and update of policies and procedures under the General Standard as of this year – 2013. 

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, June 17, 2013

Disability Management

Disability, Injury, Occupational Illness and Disease are areas as employers, managers and supervisors we are best to be on top of in our workplaces.  This is not only because it makes good business sense, but because legislation dictates that we must.  Tools to assist in the development of policies, procedures, best practice and training are available to each and every one of us – therefore no excuse is a good excuse.  Safety should always come first!
From a study completed in 2002, 2.3% of the Canadian population suffered from depression in the previous year.  Depression is on the rise and therefore a growing concern to employers.  That said, workplace sponsored programs to address mental health issues are surprisingly low. 
Only 23% of Canadians feel comfortable speaking to their employer about their mental illness.  Mental Illness represents 15% of disease in Canada.  A healthy workplace is essential to an organizations economic prosperity.  The economic burden of mental disorders in Canada has been estimated at $51-billion per year, with almost $20-billion of that arising from workplace mental health disorders. 
In November, 2011, Workers Compensation Act BC enacted Bill 14-2011providing changes to ensure the current workers’ compensation system remains responsive to the needs of workers and employers. Specifically, the bill amendments are to:
·         Broaden compensation coverage for mental stress conditions arising in the workplace.
·         Adjust compensation for injured apprentices to a level that fairly represents their loss of earnings.
·         Grant survivor benefits to common law couples without children after two years of cohabitation (previously three years).
·         Confirm the most recent inflation adjustments for compensation and penalty amounts
The expanded coverage under Workers Compensation BC is expected to cost an additional $10 million to $18 million a year. This change brings B.C. in line with many other provinces.
The Mental Health Commission of Canada has developed a national standard for Psychological Health and Safety in Canadian Workplaces, to be launched in 2012. The CSAZ1003 - National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace focuses on improving the psychological health and safety of employees.  Tools to achieve measurable improvement in workplace psychological health and safety and voluntary standards for employers to utilize in their workplaces are currently under review with a public review that closed December 31, 2011.
The advantages to the employee of a psychological standard include:
·         protection from psychological harm in the workplace and
·         the promotion of psychological wellbeing.
The four main parameters of the program outline the business case in favour of psychological standards for your workplace:
·         enhanced cost effectiveness,
·         improved risk management,
·         increased organizational recruitment and retention, and
·         corporate social responsibility.
This standard is voluntary, so why should you participate in the program and address mental health in your workplace – Bill C45 outlines a strong case for management of your workplace mental health – health and safety issues.
Bill C45 established new legal duties for workplace health and safety, and imposed serious penalties for violations to the Criminal Code. The Bill outlines new rules for attributing criminal liability to organizations, including corporations, their representatives and those who direct the work of others.
Bill C-45 added Section 217.1 to the Criminal Code which reads:
"217.1 Every one who undertakes, or has the authority, to direct how another person does work or performs a task is under a legal duty to take reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm to that person, or any other person, arising from that work or task."
In addition, Bill C-45 added Sections 22.1 and 22.2 to the Criminal Code imposing criminal liability on organizations and its representatives for negligence (22.1) and other offences (22.2).
In order to minimize your risk under Bill-C45 and your provincial Health and Safety enforcements, develop a thorough Health and Safety Program.  Start by:
  • Knowing  the Criminal Code and how it applies to your organization,
  • Knowing your legal obligations under occupational health and safety laws and standards in your province,
  • Knowing what hazards exist in your workplace,
  • Knowing how to effectively reduce or eliminate the hazards in your workplace and applying controls to reduce these risks,
  • Ensure employees are aware of the company's health and safety program,
  • Ensure employees are informed of any risks, and
  • Ensure employees receive appropriate training and protective equipment for their jobs and the environment they work in.
Be sure to find out if your province has specific disability legislation that you must comply with such as the Ontario – AODA Legislation.  Developing programs to address workplace disabilities return to work strategies, health and safety best practices and programs, and Due Diligence will set you well on the path to addressing workplace injuries and mental health proactively instead of reactively.  A well thought out program will create a workplace wellness culture that will reduce injuries, decrease absenteeism and ultimately reduce costs; remembering that a healthy workplace is essential to an organizations economic prosperity!
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, June 3, 2013

Our Governments Best Kept Secrets

Our Governments Best Kept Secrets
Your Return to Work Program and overall Health and Safety does not have to be a difficult process.  There are resources available to each of us in our respective provinces and for small business – The Employer Advisor and The Essential Skills Programs are a couple of the governments best kept secrets. 
When you have rising costs such as Workers Compensation due to workplace injuries and targeted Ministry Blitzes, it is easy to become frantic and not know where to turn.  Staying on top of the legislation can be tough. 
Utilizing resources available to you is the best way for businesses to stay on top of the current and changing legislative requirements and to run an operation that is not only safe but proactive in its philosophy and approach.  Stay in contact with your Provincial Safety Association by attending their regional meetings, joining CFIB and your sector associations, contacting your provincial Employer Advisor, working with local Health and Safety and Human Resource Consultants and yes – contacting the Ministry of Labour to answer questions you may have are just a few of the ways you can stay current and be on the way to reducing your workplace accidents and injuries to ZERO!    
Your provincial Employer Advisors Group is a free service – the governments best kept secret.    If you are a small business, they may be able to represent you in dealing with your local Workers Compensation Board and employee claims.  This is a resource you don’t want to overlook. 
Reducing injuries can be addressed through enforcing company policy but that does not always address the issues.  It has been proven that training through the Essential Skills Program has reduced workplace accidents and injuries, improved retention, increased a workers movement in the organization and provided workers with the ability to work safer through better understanding of processes, procedures and documents.   
Below, I have provided you with a few web links for the different provincial Workers Compensation Return to Work Programs as well as templates:
Health and Safety is not only legislated – it is good business practice and good business sense.  I know you have heard me preach about this before. By taking the time to develop a health and safety culture inclusive of programs, policies, training and procedures required under the law and beyond; making sure that you do those little extras to ensure your workers are safe from injury; will make your workplace a better place to work. You won’t mind the Ministry visiting your workplace, because you will receive a clean bill of health.  The visit will be one of affirmation not frustration.
 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