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

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