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

Friday, September 6, 2013

Should an organization hire youth or experience?

Simply put the answer is it depends; neither is the correct answer. Both youth and experience have a place in the world. This question is asked of me often in my field of expertise and it really depends on the organization’s needs.  Finding the right person for a position is the key.  Personality, energy, fit into the corporate culture with the right mix of experience and qualifications or maybe experience is not the concern as they can be taught.

Some organizations think that hiring youth when it comes to IT jobs is the way to go.  Again, it all comes down to experience, attitude, personality and corporate fit.  I do find for myself that I can give an IT issue to my teen and she figures it out quicker and without the same level of frustration that I have – but IT doesn’t interest me the way it does her. 

Experience comes with longevity in an area of expertise and training.  Someone fresh out of school would not have the same level of expertise that a twenty year veteran would have in the field.  But, the question comes down to what are your needs, what does the position require of an individual as far as experience, technology, productivity expectations, competencies, personality, attitude and corporate fit.  If there is a young person who can meet the requirements of the job or that you can train to do the job the way you want it done – why over look them!  Alternately, if there is someone with experience who can do the job – why over look them! 

Energy is often associated with youth; this is stereotyping. Being hard working or lazy has little to do with age, but rather attitude.  I know many older people who have more energy or drive to work than some younger people and vice-versa.  It again depends on the individual. 

There are good arguments for both sides with equal weight.  So to answer the question – it really does depend on the organization’s needs –short term as well as long term.  This is where the organizations miss the mark – what are the long term goals for the organization and the positions within the organization? 

Have you completed an HR Audit of the positions in the organization to identify change required in order for the organization to grow productively?  Many of you small or large, will probably say no I don’t have time or no why would we!  So I ask: “How important is growth within your organization (profitability)?”  If you answered extremely important, then an assessment of your organizations HR requirements needs to be addressed.

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

Carbon monoxide in the workplace

Is Carbon Monoxide (CO) in your Workplace?

Does Carbon Monoxide exist in your workplace?  If so, to what extend is it a problem?  Do you know the legal limits of exposure?  What controls do you have in place? 

Webster’s Dictionary definition of Carbon Monoxide:

“Carbon monoxide”, with the chemical formula CO, is a colorless and odorless, tasteless, yet highly toxic gas.  Its molecules consist of one carbon atom covalently bonded to one oxygen atom. There are two covalent bonds and a coordinate covalent bond between the oxygen and carbon atoms. 

Carbon Monoxide is produced from the partial oxidation of carbon-containing compounds, notably in internal-combustion engines. Carbon Monoxide forms in preference to the more usual carbon dioxide when there is a reduced availability of oxygen present during the combustion process. Carbon monoxide has significant fuel value, burning in air with a characteristic blue flame, producing carbon dioxide. Despite its serious toxicity, CO plays a highly useful role in modern technology, being a precursor to myriad products.” 

Carbon Monoxide is known as the “Silent Killer”.  Carbon Monoxide poses extreme danger because there is no warning of its presence.  Over exposure poses the hazard that must be addressed through controls set in place in the workplace. ** Pregnant workers should be removed from exposure and consult a physician if exposed.  Lethal dose concentration effects are adversely impacted by such factors as:  

Ø  An individual’s age

Ø  An individual’s health

Ø  If an individual smokes

Ø  If an individual performs physically demanding work

Ø  Where working in high temperatures or high altitudes 

Carbon Monoxide is inhaled, passing through the body to the lungs and into the bloodstream preventing the ability of blood to transport oxygen to vital tissues in our body.  This process is called Chemical asphyxiation.  Lethal dose exposure limits and symptoms according to Health Canada and OHSA are: 

Ø  Exposure Limit Maximum:  8 hours per day = 25 parts/million (ppm) for healthy adults 

Even low levels of exposure over prolonged or repeated exposure will affect alertness, perception, memory, personality, moods, and performance of fine motor skills.  These health effects may eventually impact safety performance standards in the workplace. 

Identified below are a few of the sources of Carbon Monoxide at a worksite are:

Ø  Kilns, furnaces and boilers,

Ø  Welding

Ø  Space heaters, oil and gas burners

Ø  Cigarette smoke

Ø  Internal combustion engines

Ø  Moulding of plastics

Ø  Forging, ceramic, petroleum, steel and waste management processes

Ø  Fire and explosions

Ø  Small gas powered engines and tools i.e. floor buffers, concrete cutting saws, high-pressure washers

Ø  Propane forklifts

Ø  Ice resurfacing equipment (Zamboni)

Ø  Exposure to methylene chloride (dichloromethane) used for degreasing and paint stripping

Work areas are defined as “Open Spaces” or “Confined Spaces”.  Open spaces i.e. outdoors (lawns) and indoors where carbon monoxide produced from equipment such as gas powered trimmers, other equipment and cars would dissipate as fresh air is generated by movement of air (wind) or internal air circulation systems and/or a person’s movement, preventing the build-up of carbon monoxide. 

Confined spaces are spaces with low air flow restricted, i.e. tanks, bins, hoppers and vaults, where there is higher risk of an increased concentration (build-up) of Carbon Monoxide, therefore increasing the risk of exposure. The OHSA Regulation defines a confined space as follows:

"confined space", except as otherwise determined by Inspectors or other authorized authorities (fire department etc.), means an area, other than an underground working area, that:
(a) is enclosed or partially enclosed,
(b) is not designed or intended for continuous human occupancy,
(c) has limited or restricted means for entry or exit that may complicate the provision of first aid, evacuation, rescue or other emergency response service, and
(d) is large enough and so configured that a worker could enter to perform assigned work;

Preventing exposure to Carbon Monoxide is “Best Practice”, however if this is not possible, sources of Carbon Monoxide must be controlled to prevent exposure by:

Ø  Use of engineering controls – mechanical processes used to eliminate exposure to Carbon Monoxide that would remove the substance from the air i.e. ventilation system, air and exhaust systems.

Ø  Changes in work practices to reduce exposure (administrative controls) – education and training of workers, carbon monoxide detectors and inspection/maintenance of engineering controls

Ø  Use of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) – respiratory protective equipment 

Best Practice includes conducting assessments of your workplace, developing a monthly inspection process, policies and procedures; assessing each job for exposure limits, assessing each employee (a Medical Surveillance Program – Lung Test, Blood Tests immediately following exposure), assess each piece of equipment that poses a threat of emissions and conducting a facility air quality inspection (typically completed annually) and an Annual Workwell Audit specific to your facility and industry. 

  1. Assess your workplace
  2. Testing – Medical Surveillance, Air Quality, CO tests
  3. Control Hazards – implement controls and modifications
  4. Maintenance, repair and modifications to equipment and facility to address hazards as identified.
  5. Ongoing monthly inspections and pre-use inspections
  6. Annual assessments/testing
  7. Educate -Employee Training

In our homes, Carbon Monoxide may be produced in lethal quantities in automobile exhaust, faulty home heating systems, improperly used portable gas stoves and heaters, and improperly vented wood stoves and fireplaces.  Safety does not stop at work!

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

Employee Morale and Retention

Employee Motivation as the Key to Higher Retention Rates

Employee morale and employee retention go hand in hand.  If employees do not feel motivated at work, they will most likely start to look for new jobs elsewhere.  Tracking employee morale is essential for measuring retention rates within a company.   The only precise way to measure employee morale is fairly easy: ask the employees directly.  This can be done using polls, surveys, suggestion programs, or even informal-type interviews for smaller businesses.  The results can be quite shocking.  Typically, employees are enthusiastic and have a high morale when they first start a job, but in a study done by Harvard Business School, they found that in about 85% of companies, employees’ moral drastically declines after their first six months on the job.  This continues to decline as their tenure increases.

Employees are often looking for three key goals that motivate them throughout their employment.  These are equity, achievement, and camaraderie.  Equity deals with being respected and treated fairly in terms of pay and benefits.  Employee achievement is established when employees feel proud of their job, their personal accomplishments, and their employer.  Lastly, camaraderie is generated when employees have close, productive relationships with other employees.  In order to have high retention rates within a company, employers must ensure that they meet all these goals.  Employers and management can do several things to ensure they meet the employee goals.  Three main practices can be put into place to begin to increase overall motivation: instilling purpose, focusing on employees, and promoting transparent communication.

Instilling purpose within a company typically comes from a dynamic organizational mission statement that gives all employees a reason for coming to work aside from compensation.  Individual departments can have purpose or mission statements as well that focus on its main goals.  These statements not only give an employee purpose, but a sense of importance, camaraderie and belonging as well.

Employers need to focus on employees as individuals to boost morale within their companies.  Providing employees with recognition, or coaching them for improvement shows them that the company is showing interest in them and that they are being appreciated for their work.  Receiving recognition for achievements shouldn’t be overlooked since it is one of the most fundamental human needs.

Opening channels for transparent communication between employers and employees is a quick way to boost respect, and thus increase motivation.  When employees feel that they are respected, trusted, and involved in workplace functions, all three of their goals (equity, achievement, camaraderie) are met.  Transparent communication does not just mean communicating fully, but listening to and involving employees wherever possible as well.

Employers often disregard looking at motivation as a factor of a high turnover rate and retention problems, but motivation problems quickly permeate into other aspects of the job as well eventually causing the employee to search for something new. Being aware of motivation levels within a company is the first step to improving overall retention, not to mention increase productivity and efficiency as well.


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 2, 2013

Workplace MSD Injuries

MSD's (Musculoskeletal disorders are the number one type of work-related lost time injury in the province of Ontario making up over 40%  of all injuries. Workplace MSD claims cost employers millions of dollars in direct costs and billions of dollars in indirect costs. 

By implementing an MSD prevention program in your workplaces some of the benefits you will achieve are:

·         reduce the number of reported MSDs thereby reducing the number of Ministry of Labour visits and WSIB claims

·         reduce costs - both direct and indirect costs

·         create a safer workplace

·         have healthier employees

·         less loss time injuries and

·         lower recruitment costs (recruitment, orientation, training, morale etc.)

  The costs of MSD Claims equated to an hourly cost per employee vary based on the annual salary.  For example, an employee who earns an annual salary of 15,000 would cost approximately $10.10 per hour; an employee who earns $75,000 annual salary would cost approximately $50.48 per hour.  

Be proactive and implement an ergonomic program in your workplace. Train and advise your workers.  Ensure that they participate in the program through early reporting of MSD symptoms or concerns.  Regularly identify and assess risk factors.  Implement controls to reduce workers' exposure to MSD risk factors.  To ensure preventive measures are working - follow up.

Ministry of Labour blitzes are planned to continue. MSD programs and prevention best practices do not have to be complex systems.   Ensure your return to work policy; procedures and program are up to date with MSD requirements under the Ministry of Labour and OHSA guidelines.  If you have an effective health and safety program you already have a solid foundation to develop your MSD prevention program.

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