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Voices of our Nation

The most boring article on Fire Safety in the Workplace

Fire prevention is an important component of workplace health and safety programs. An effective fire prevention program provides employees with the tools and information needed to work safely, and protect the workplace and employees from the devastation of fire. Human personnel, property, and environmental losses can have a significant negative impact on workplace ‘production, morale, and continued expectations of success. The damage resulting from even a small fire incident can be detrimental to a workplace’s ability to remain in business.

There is specific legislation about fire prevention in the Canadian provinces. There are fourteen jurisdictions in Canada. One federal jurisdiction, ten provincial, and three territorial. Each with occupational health and safety legislation. This legislation outlines the general rights and responsibilities of the employer, the supervisor, and the worker.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act, gives the Government of Ontario the power to make regulations while also setting out the general principles and duties for workplaces. The Ontario Fire Code is a regulation made under the Fire Protection and Protection and Prevention Act, consisting of the minimum requirements for fire safety within workplaces.

The business owner is responsible for complying with the Ontario Fire Code. The Building Code Act is the legislative framework governing the construction, renovation, and uses of workplaces. The purposes of the Ontario Building Code include public health, safety, and fire prevention; although, its primary purpose is the promotion of public safety through the application of building standards. The Ontario Electrical is intended to ensure safety considerations and protections for workplaces keep pace with the new technology and building needs.

All workplace personnel have a role to play in ensuring health and safety requirements are met within the workplace. Workplace assessments can be useful in identifying the strengths and weaknesses of employees and employers in a workplace. The reason for fire risk assessments is to keep people safe. By establishing current risks and possible barriers to safety, solutions can be found before an emergency situation occurs. It will be more difficult to develop during a life-threatening fire event, especially when barriers to safety arise.

Analyzing the issues and factors that are creating the current issues in your workplace helps to develop effective solutions to accomplish workplace goals and to allow the workplace to become more successful. Accommodations for employees, if needed, ensure the health and safety of each employee including those persons with disabilities. Workplaces should be responsible for complying with safety regulations and guidelines to ensure a better opportunity for a successful workplace.

Sources:
Canada Acts and Regulations
Fire Safety Procedures For The Workplace
The Effectiveness of Workplace Assessments

This article was written by volunteer blogger Shan Simpson and edited by volunteer editor Scott Jacobsen.

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Voices of our Nation

Seasonal employment’s effect on employee absenteeism

Employee burnout is considered as when employees have exhausted their physical or emotional strength. Employee burnout generally happens as the result of extended stress or frustration. Stressful jobs, lack of workplace support and resources, along with short deadlines, can all contribute to employee burnout. The seasons of the year can have an effect on the performance level of employees. Burnout can also occur when employees’ have high expectations of themselves or when an employee has stressful personal circumstances. Burned-out employees can be costly in terms of productivity, and if burned-out employees quit, there are costs of replacement searches and job training for workplaces.

Employee burnout cannot always be prevented, but it can be managed. Full-time, part-time, and seasonal employees can each present unique challenges that employers need to address effectively. Workplaces should understand the reasons for the burnout for their employers and employees. Workplace burnout is often still perceived as carrying a stigma, so staff may be reluctant to seek help at an early stage. Employers and employees should work together to find effective solutions to workplace problems such as burnout. A study of Canadian employees found that an increased salary, improving morale and employees being recognized for their accomplishments were the best ways for employers to improve their work satisfaction.

Absenteeism is an employee’s intentional or excessive absences from work. Some common causes of absenteeism include burnout, stress, depression, illness, harassment and work related injuries. Frequent employee absences can also have a major effect on workplace finances and workplace morale. While employers expect workers to miss a certain number of work days each year, many absences can cause decreased productivity. Seventy-five percent of Canadian employees studied considered the office as the most productive place to get work done. Sixty-eight percent of these Canadians felt that an increase in temperature was a contributing factor to employee burnout. Forty-three percent of Canadians have reported that they are working longer hours simply to catch up on work they couldn’t accomplish during an eight-hour day especially during the summer months.

Employers need to understand the laws governing the various types of employment for the different types of employees. Seasonal work has been an important aspect of the Canadian labour market throughout Canada’s history. However, employee performance can still be affected even when employees are only exposed to extreme temperatures for brief periods of time. Employers should be aware that completing certain tasks may be more challenging for disabled or elderly employees and make reasonable accommodations to assist their employees in completing their assigned tasks. Employers also must take reasonable precautions to ensure the safety and health of their employees.

Sources:
Absenteeism: What’s Missing in Canadian Labour?
Business Advantage Canada
Causes of Absenteeism
Causes of Employee Burnout
Statistics Canada

This article was contributed by volunteer blogger Shan Simpson.

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Voices of our Nation

This what happens when Ontario is more accessible

Disabilities are a significant concern in Canada due to an aging Canadian population. Approximately 3.8

Internal development of Canada's internal bord...
Internal development of Canada’s internal borders, from the formation of the dominion to the present. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

million Canadians have a disability. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disability Act, or AODA, was designed to improve the accessibility standards for Ontarians with disabilities. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act became law in 2005. The AODA was a statute enacted in 2005 for the purpose of improving accessibility standards for Ontarians with physical and mental disabilities by 2025. The AODA requires public and private sector organizations to comply with mandatory standards that remove and prevent barriers to accessibility for people with disabilities. From the AODA came the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service in 2007 and Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation in 2012.

The AODA is made up of five standards with a standard covering an aspect of daily living. These standards are the customer service, employment, design of public spaces, transportation, information and communication standards. The deadlines for compliance range from 2010 to 2021. The customer service standard was the first standard to come into effect and all of Ontario’s businesses should be compliant to this standard. Businesses are required to let the Canadian government know of their compliance by 2017.

The customer service standard is intended to make an organization’s customer service operations accessible to disabled people. Accessibility is not just about complying with a law, but also about giving consumers with disabilities the opportunity to use or buy services. The customer service standard establishes requirements for the provision of accessible customer service. This standard applies to all organizations that provide goods or services either directly to the public or to other organizations and that have one or more employees in Ontario. The Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation requires that private and not-for-profit businesses with fifty or more employees, who operate in Ontario, must provide accessible formats and appropriate communication for goods and services to people with disabilities. If services are unable businesses should let disabled people know how long disruption of these services are going to last. Customers should be asked about feedback regarding eliminating any barriers that may have been overlooked and it is important to respond to any feedback that is received. A business plan or policy should be posted publicly when a strategy is developed to eliminate barriers for the customers.

The employment standard is intended to help organizations support and keep more skilled employees. The AODA defines an employee as someone who works seasonal, full-time, part-time, is contracted, or a non-volunteer. The purpose of the employment standard is to integrate accessibility into regular workplace process and to ensure that employers provide for accessibility across all stages of the employment cycle. This standard makes accessibility a normal part of finding, hiring and communicating with employees who have disabilities.

The design of public spaces standard is an accessibility standard that is part of the AODA’s Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation. This standard regulates the design of newly constructed or redeveloped spaces used by the public. The elements covered bythe design of public spaces standard include exterior spaces such as sidewalks and other pedestrian walkways, parking lots, outdoor public use eating areas, beach access routes, recreational trails and playgrounds. The requirements of this standard are also included for some design elements associated with providing public access to services.

The transportation standard requires transportation services to prevent and remove barriers so that people with disabilities can more easily access transportation services across Ontario. Requirements for accessible transportation apply to organizations that offer transportation services to the public or to employees. Organizations providing transportation services are required to establish, implement, maintain, and document accessibility training policies or procedures that are specific to transportation-related duties concerning disabled people.

The information and communication standard helps people with disabilities access sources of information that many of us rely on every day. The main goal of this standard is to promote an inclusive design of information and communication platforms. The information and communication standard specifies requirements to prevent and remove barriers to persons with disabilities when creating, conveying, distributing, obtaining and receiving various information or communication by organizations. Accessibility is not just about complying with the law.

Workplaces should be compliant to the AODA standards. Ontario should be a place where everyone has a chance to be successful. An improvement in the accessibility of workplaces could create more job opportunities for disabled people which would significantly benefit Canadian workplaces. Training can implemented that will allow workplaces to understand these standards. Canada will benefit if everyone has access to places, people, and experiences. As the Canadian population ages, the number of people with disabilities will rise. It is estimated that seniors and people with disabilities represent twenty to twenty five percent of the Canadian recreation, retail, entertainment, workplace and housing marketplaces in the next ten years and beyond. Ontario benefits daily from the many contributions made by people with disabilities. Consumer spending increases when businesses are accessible which stimulates the Canadian economy. Greater accessibility can help to prepare Canada for a better future and also would provide a better quality of life within Canada.

This article was contributed by volunteer blogger Shan Simpson

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Voices of our Nation

Workplace safety

There are various safety issues that workplaces must effectively address. Due diligence is the level of judgement, care, prudence, determination, and activity that a person would reasonably be expected to do under particular circumstances.  Due diligence means that employers must take all reasonable precautions, under the particular circumstances, to prevent injuries or accidents in the workplace. This duty also applies to situations that are not addressed elsewhere in the occupational health and safety legislation.  Reasonable precautions are also referred to as reasonable care. It refers to the care, caution, or action a reasonable person is expected to take under similar circumstances.  Employers must do what is reasonably practicable to ensure the safety of their employees.  Reasonably practicable means taking precautions that are not only possible, but that are also suitable or rational, given the particular situation.  Workplaces must implement policies that will create a safe workplace environment for each employee. Employer must implement a plan to identify possible hazards and carry out the appropriate actions to prevent accidents or injuries from occurring in the workplace.  

Harassment is a serious issue that needs to be properly addressed to allow workplaces to function more effectively. Harassment can make an employee feel unsafe in workplaces and can be a form of discrimination. Harassment involves any unwanted physical or verbal behavior that offends or humiliates someone. Harassment is a harmful behavior that usually persists over time.  However, serious one time incidents can also sometimes be considered as harassment.  Physical harassment in the workplace takes many forms. Sexual assault is one form of widely known physical harassment.  Unlike physical harassment, emotional harassment is unnoticeable and also viewed as being more socially acceptable. One common form of emotional abuse in workplace is bullying.  Workplace bullying is a long lasting, escalated conflict with frequent harassing actions aimed at a targeted person.  All employees should be expected to act professionally and respectfully toward each other and to speak out against unacceptable behaviours in the workplace in a skillful and sensitive manner.  

A poisoned work environment refers to a workplace where comments or behaviors create a hostile or offensive environment for individuals or groups and negatively affects communication and the workplace productivity. Policies should be implemented that eliminate harassment and allow every employee to feel safe within their workplace.  28% of Canadians have reported experiencing sexual harassment in their place of work. Women are three times as likely than men to experience a form of harassment. Young men are the least likely to have such experiences  while 47% of middle-aged Canadian women reported being harassed in the workplace. Workplaces should implement a strong anti-harassment policy prohibiting harassment and include a description of disciplinary consequences that will be applied. Training can be provided to educate employees harassment and remind employees  of the importance of maintaining a harassment free workplace.  The benefits of harassment prevention training programs include establishing a more employee-friendly work environment. From a management perspective, this training reduces the chance of legal action against the workplace based upon a harassment complaint. It can be possible to create a safe workplace environment where   harassment decreases while the level of employee productivity is increased when the employees feel comfortable and respected.  

Source: Statistics Canada

This article was contributed by volunteer blogger Shan Simpson.

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Your rights as an employee

Your rights as an employee

  1. The right to refuse unsafe work. If the work you are asked to do could harm you or a co-worker, you have the right to refuse. Your employer may ask another employee to to do the work while the Ministry of Labour investigates, but it must be in your presence.
  2. Health & Safety training is mandatory in Ontario.
  3. Ontario workers are protected by both occupational health and safety and employment standards laws. Employers must pay at least a minimum wage and provide a safe and healthy work environment, among other responsibilities.
  4. The right to know. You have the right to know the hazards in your job. Your employer or supervisor must tell you about anything in your job that can hurt you. Your employer must make sure you are provided with the information you need so that you can work safely.
  5. The right to participate. You have the right to take part in keeping your workplace healthy and safe. Depending on the size of the company, you can be part of the Health and Safety Committee or be a Health and Safety Representative. You also have the right to participate in training and information sessions to help you do your job safely.
  6. The employment standards act sets out minimum standards for employers in Ontario.

Find out more at Work Smart Ontario.