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