Time for Human Resources, Facility Managers and Purchasing to Meet with Sr Level OPC Consultants before Human Rights Complaints start!!

Following is recent correspondence which OPC Inc. has had with our clients as there are increasing “demands” from employees and their Physicians (by way of Doctors Notes) regarding Sit to Stand workstations. …..it is our opinion that a national strategy needs to take place for YOUR COMPANY along with the development of a Standards Document and Policy document regarding Sit to St

Did you know that static standing at work increases your heart rate and blood pressure?

Did you know that static standing at work increases your heart rate and blood pressure?

and Workstations for a few reasons which have been outlined below. 1. What will be the HR Directors response be regarding if Physician Notes determine how your Facility Manager and Purchasing group action the request including what equipment you need to buy for an employee? – GP’s knowledge levels about low back pain/mechanical low back pain & musculoskeletal injuries is limited at best. There is plenty of evidence published by MD’s themselves that evidence is not being used in their day to day practice. Access the YouTube public forums being delivered by Dr Hamilton Hall MD and Orthopaedic Surgeon plus the papers published by Dr. Stuart McGill U Waterloo to see how limited the GP’s knowledge is about the application of best evidence for patients with musculoskeletal injuries in particular the lower back. 2. Should OPC Inc continue to apply evidence-based ergonomic practice regarding when and if a sit to stand workstation is required by any of YOUR COMPANY’s employee whom we assess? We are increasingly “policing” the use of sit to stand workstations based on best evidence however there are risks for your related to human rights complaints & work refusals if standards, policies and education are not put into place around sit to stand workstations. 3. Managers and/or employees who upon finding they did not get the equipment they “want” are “escalating” their requests to Sr. Managers, to HR and in some cases hinting they will take their complaints to Human Rights”. 4. The literature from which we (all of OPC’s consultants) draw our facts and base our ergonomic practice upon must come from researchers who are not sponsored by any of the furniture manufacturers. They include but are not limited to; 1. Cornell University’s non-sponsored research (some of the furniture manufacturers hire the PhD’s to conduct “research for them and white papers” 2. Hedge A., Ray E.J. (2004) Effects of an Electronic Height-Adjustable Worksurface on Self-Assessed Musculoskeletal Discomfort & Productivity among Computer Workings, Proceedings of the Human Factors & Ergonomics Society 48th Annual Meeting, New Orleans, Sept 20-24, HFES Santa Monica, 1091-1095. 3. Krause N. Lynch JW., Kaplan G.A., Cohen R.D., Salonen J.T. (2000) Standing at Work and the Progression of Carotid Atherosclerosis. Scand J Work Environ Health, 26(3):227-236 4. Tuchsen F. Krause N., (2005) Prolonged Standing at work and Hospitalization due to Varicose Veins: a 12 year prospective study. Occup Environ Med. 2005 December: 62(12):847-850 5. Wilks S., Mortimer M., Nylen P. (2005) The Introduction of Sit-Stand Worktables: aspects of attitudes, compliance and satisfaction. App. Ergo., 37(3), 359-365 6. Sleeth, JE., Workplace survey of general office worker following implementation of 50 sit to stand workstations in the absence of ergonomic assessments. Internal Paper December 2014. Sit to Stand workstations are not the panacea for sore backs & other musculoskeletal complaints in the office. It is important to avoid referring to research published by or sponsored by furniture companies and manufacturers. Reading the Cornell University’s Ergonomic research is a great start in understanding why MD notes are not evidence based because static standing leads to greater generalized fatigue, ischaemic heart disease worsening, increased progression of carotid atherosclerosis & varicose veins. As well, when people stand up to work their fine motor skills diminish – remember moving the mouse is a fine motor skill. So what do you do about your employee’s health & productivity? Read our Blogs to learn more about best evidence in this field, join us at our many conferences and seminars or contact us to learn how the application of REAL ergonomics makes tangible improvements to employee work rates, error rates and health. You can also reach us at 416 860-0002

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If the ROI of Accessibility in your Workplace Does Not Convince you, the Penalties Should

Integrated Accessibility Standards – The Next Step in AODA Compliance for Private Companies in Ontario.
If the ROI doesn’t Convince you, the Penalties for Non-Compliance Should.

The compliance deadlines for the Accessibility Standard for Customer Service was the first of 5 Standards under the Accessibility for Ontarians’ with Disabilities Act (AODA), have past. Private organizations in Ontario should be well under way in the planning stages for meeting the next IASR (Integrated Accessibility Standards) which is the next phase of requirements under Ontario’s Accessibility legislation. These Integrated Accessibility Standards came into effect on January, 2012 for Private Organizations and are also accompanied by the mandatory requirement to ensure public outdoor spaces include accessible design elements. The IASR significantly impacts most organizations in Ontario with respect to their human resources practices, procurement and day-to-day business practices.

The Integrated Accessibility Standards address accessibility in three areas: Information and Communications; Employment; and Transportation. The IASR is much more complex than the Customer Service Standard in its application as compliance with each section is not consistent for all organizations. Most of the compliance deadlines are phased in between January 1, 2012 and January 1, 2017 (many extend beyond 2017). The deadlines within each standard vary making it critical that organizations know which parts of which standards apply, how and by what dates.

Who do the Integrated Accessibility Standards Apply to?

The IASR applies to the Ontario Government & Legislative Assembly, every designated public sector organization AND every person or organization that provides goods, services or facilities to the public or to third parties and has at least one employee in Ontario.

The 2 classifications of private organization under the IASR with targeted compliance include.

1. Large private and not-for-profit organizations (50+ employees)

2. Small private and not-for-profit organizations (between 1–50 employees)

* All organizations with the exception of small private and not-for-profit organizations (less than 50 employees) are required to report compliance to the government at designated timelines.

Outline of Basic Steps required in each Standard?

Following is a summary of categories and the primary requirements associated with each. The requirements under the IASR are extensive & as such this does not represent a complete complete list. Our AODA Policy experts and Built Environment Experts can assist in reviewing and planning for the more in-depth Integrated Accessibility Standards. contact us at AODA@optimalperformance.ca to arrange an initial consult.

General Requirements

The IAS Regulation has a set of General Requirements:

· Accessibility Policies and Plans

Organizations are required to develop, implement and maintain policies on how they will achieve accessibility requirements and commit to removing barriers to inclusion. Organizations will be required to establish, implement, maintain and document a Multi-Year Accessibility Plan which outlines the organization’s accessibility strategy to meet the requirements of the Integrated Standard. The plan must be posted on the organization’s website, provided in an accessible format and be reviewed at least once every five years.

· Mandatory Training

Organizations must train all employees on the IASR requirements which include the Communication and Information, Employment and Transportation standards as well as the Human Rights Code for Ontario. The requirements are numerous and training should be specific to the duties/nature of each job. This means employee & manager training requirements will differ in length and content.

Other groups which must also be trained include persons who develop policies (i.e. board members) and anyone who provide goods, services or facilities on behalf of the organization

Other General Requirements include the procurement of goods, services or facilities and self-service kiosks.

Information and Communications Standard including:

· Accessible Formats and Communication Supports

Organizations must, upon request, provide accessible formats and communication supports. Examples may include enlarged print, braille, accessible electronic formats, captioning, sign language interpreters and reading documents aloud. Accessible formats and communication supports must be provided or arranged for in a timely manner and at a cost not exceeding the regular cost charged to other persons.

· Accessible Websites

Organizations will be required to make their internet websites and web content conform to the World Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessibility Guidelines called WCAG 2.0. These guidelines define the requirements for an accessible website. These guidelines include four principles of web accessibility:


Adherence to these guidelines will increase readability and allow persons with different disabilities to use assistive devices such as screen readers, magnifiers, & alternate navigation methods within the web.

· Feedback Processes

By now Organizations should have processes for receiving and responding to feedback related to the Customer Service Standard. There is now a requirement to ensure Feedback regarding the CSS and the IASR are accessible to persons with disabilities by providing accessible formats and communication supports, upon request.

Information and Communications requirements also include emergency procedures and educational and training resources and materials.

Employment Standard

The Employment standard is specific to Employers as it relates to the employment of paid employees. This Standard establishes obligations for employers regarding recruitment, accessible training and testing information, employee accommodation, return to work, performance management, career development and re-deployment. This will entail training managers on their responsibilities and training employees on their rights under the AODA.

· Individualized Workplace Emergency Response Information

Organizations must provide and document individualized workplace emergency plans for employees with a disability. Employees are not required to disclose a disability however organizations must request that an employee inform them if the existing emergency response plan does not meet their needs and how the Plan can meet their individual needs.

*This requirement was to be met on January 1, 2012.

· Recruitment Practices

Employers must ensure that all matters related to the recruitment process are accessible to persons with all disability types. This includes jobs being posted in accessible formats and locations; consulting with applicants to provide or arrange suitable accommodation in a manner that takes into account the applicant’s disability; and providing communication supports and information in an accessible format.

· Employee Accommodation

Upon request, employers must meet an employee’s need for accessible formats and communication supports for information that is needed in order to perform the job and to access information that is generally available to employees in the workplace.

Transportation Standard

The Transportation standard applies to organizations that provide public or specialized transportation services. The details of the Transportation standard are numerous & technical in nature. Organizations should carefully review this standard to determine whether or not it applies to them.

Enforcement and Penalties

Failure to comply with the AODA requirements can lead to administrative monetary penalties and prosecutions. The Accessibility Directorate of Ontario has the power to conduct inspections, assign monetary penalties and prosecute through the courts. Penalties for non-compliance range from $200 to $2,000 for individuals and unincorporated organizations; $500 to $15,000 for corporations.
In the case of an offense under the AODA, penalties can reach a daily maximum of $50,000 for individuals or unincorporated organizations and $100,000 daily for corporations.

There are numerous excellent studies and evidence about the ROI of incorporated Accessibility Programs and Policies as well as Built Environments in the UK, US and Australia. Evidence is starting to emerge in Canada as well primarily in the Province of Ontario. If the ROI and Businesses cases are not motivation enough to embrace accessible, inclusive organizations, then the possibility of corporate penalties of $100,000 per DIEM, brand damage & negative shareholder perceptions may well motivate organizations to comply and do so on the timelines outlined by the Directorate.

To learn the details as to compliance requirements and deadlines for reporting please contact one of our AODA Policy experts.
To learn more about the Accessible Public Space Design requirements which were quietly passed in December 2012 or the new Ontario Build Code Accessible Built Environment (ABES) which passed December 27th 2013 contact one of OPC’s Built Environment Experts.
Contact us at AODA@OptimalPerformance.ca to set up an initial meeting with our experts. Continue reading

Posted in AODA, AODA Act, compliance, IASR, Ontario Build Code, Penalties | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cultivating wellbeing in the built environment

Organizations are finding ways employees can escape to work, rather than from work. Their initiatives aim to connect wellbeing to the built environment.

Source: www.reminetwork.com

Great article which outlines how much ergonomics and human factors design is very much part of Wellbeing in the workplace which Steelcase espouses.  The best was to summarize the article is "The built environment is an “asset to maximize human potential.”. If you want to learn more about this topic and how it applies to your workplace sign up for the 3rd Seminar by Steelcase’s Kathy Smythe & Optimal Performance’s Jane Sleeth March 26th am, breakfast will be served. Sign up on Info@optimalperformance.ca or 888 768-2106 & ask for Carla. 

See on Scoop.itHuman Factors Design

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Why Symptoms of MSI get worse when employee’s don’t receive what they think they need……

Good morning Manager

We reviewed the ergonomic report generated by OPC when you first mentioned EE’s self reported increase in symptoms despite the fact the evidence indicates this will place her arms/shoulders into neutral postures and eliminate static loads at these joints.

These recommendations in both ergonomic and physiotherapeutic terms (I am both an Ergonomist and Physiotherapist) means this should decrease her symptoms.

Re. her insistence upon receiving a sit-to-stand workstation;    There are NO objective indicators as to how a sit-to-stand workstation will impact her specific issues especially since they are related to her neck and shoulders.

In fact at OPC Inc. we are cautious about recommending these workstations especially when there is no relationship between areas of discomfort or injury & the need to stand.

There is under-reported but equally important evidence (in particular coming from work at Cornell University’s engineering and ergonomic science program) which shows how the static standing postures which occur at a sit-to-stand workstation leads to the following, even in healthy individuals:

  1. Increased heart rates
  2. Increased cardiac muscle loading during both systole and diastole (beat and rest phases)
  3. increased venous filling in the lower limbs (legs) which in turn can increase risk for DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis)
  4. Decreased lymphatic drainage from the lower limbs
  5. Increased loading of the joints of the lower body etc. etc.

As you can see the seemingly innocuous and simple suggestion for a sit-to-stand workstation needs to be carefully measured against the significant health risks. This is why you will notice in the Workplace Behavioural Section of OPC’s report we provided there are strong suggestions for your employee to start to take more micro-breaks; to perform some tasks in standing; to even have your team meetings occur in standing postures; to use the stairs & to commence a regular walking program.

There is a far larger body of physiological, biomechanical and mental function evidence that these activities will prevent discomfort and injury from occurring and or worsening. It is this evidence which is distilled and becomes part of our recommendations in ergonomic reports for your company.

You and EE are both welcome to view our Blog which reviews the scientific literature & explains the studies in layman’s terms for application in the workplace. This may educate her further as to why we made her specific recommendations & how this positively impacts her postures and muscle loading.

Positive feedback from yourself as Manager and your employee’s MD and rehabilitation team about proper use of ergonomics will allow her to further see the reasons for her to continue with all aspects of her recommendations.  This will also have an impact on her perception of her symptoms. To learn more about having a patient’s MD, Rehabilitation provider and family/work team reinforce a positive message about recovery from MSI related pain read our Blog or some of Dr Hamilton Hall’s extensive work in this area.

Jane Sleeth OPC Inc.

Ergonomic expertise since 1991

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Classic Displays: OPC’s Accessibility team reviewed Seating and Benches & Approves!

Classic Displays: Increase Accessibility with Accessible Seating

via Classic Displays: Increase Accessibility with Accessible Seating.

As part of the new IASR under the AODA for Ontario Public Spaces must also include accessible design. Have a look at these benches and let us know what makes these benches more accessible for aging and disabled users.

Few companies in Canada design outdoor spaces & benches for accessibility. OPC Ergo approves!

Few companies in Canada design outdoor spaces & benches for accessibility. OPC Ergo approves!

OPC Inc Accessible and Human Factors Design since 1991

Posted in accessibility, Accessibility in Ontario, Accessible, accessible design, ADA, Anthropometrics & Design, AODA, AODA Act, AODA Consultants;, AODA Experts, Build Code | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Samsung releases new ad ‘Hearing Hands’

Samsung released an advertisement this weekend for a new service intended to help people with hearing disabilities. In the ad, a person with a hearing disability encounters only people who know sig…

Source: globalaccessibilitynews.com

The Disabled Marketplace is the size of the Chinese economy worldwide. Samsung, Microsoft, Apple all GET this and target this market. So why then are Ontario companies so reluctant if not set in not complying with the AODA? OPC Inc creating workplaces, commercial & condominium built environments for ALL users using Human Factors Design since 1991. We want to consult with the companies who "get" this.  Contact us to talk at AODA@optimalperformance.ca

See on Scoop.itInclusive

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RESNA, ISO and ANSI Standards for Wheelchairs and other Assistive Devices from OPC Inc’s AODA experts

Assistive Device Standards for Wheelchairs

RESNA, Rehabilitation Engineering & Assistive Technology Society of North America. RESNA members promote the exchange of ideas and information for the advancement of assistive technology.

RESNA develops standards for assistive devices in the following areas: wheelchairs (including scooters), wheelchairs and transportation, wheelchair seating, support surfaces, vision and hearing impairments, adaptive sports equipment. A long list of standards covering these technologies is on the RESNA website. That list is reproduced here but ammended with descriptions and links to download the standards.

ISO 7176-1:1999 Wheelchairs — Part 1: Determination of static stability
This part of ISO 7176 specifies the test methods for determining the static tipping stability of wheelchairs, including scooters. This part of ISO 7176 is applicable to wheelchairs and vehicles that are included in the 12.21 series described in ISO 9999 and are intended to provide indoor and outdoor mobility for people with disabilities whose mass does not exceed the maximum mass of the tes

The design of these devices is housed in data with ANSI, ISO and the CSA.

The design of these devices is housed in data with ANSI, ISO and the CSA.

t dummy given in ISO 7176-11.

Read more: http://ansidotorg.blogspot.com/2009/08/assistive-device-standards-for.html#ixzz3TqeSDNx4

At the end of the day remember though – wheelchair users represent 1% of the North American population. There are more people with sensory disabilities such as blindness and low vision, and deafness. We cannot design things to suit people in wheelchairs to the exclusion of other disabilities. Thus the need for Universal Design experts like OPC’s and the prevention of the use of wheelchair ramps which are trip hazards for people who are blind and of low vision plus the elderly!

The AODA's CSS, IASR and Ontario Build Code are mandatory. Non-Compliance will result in financial Penalties.

The AODA’s CSS, IASR and Ontario Build Code are mandatory. Non-Compliance will result in financial Penalties.

More on this in our next Blog OPCErgo since 1991

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Customer accessibility compliance for business (AODA)

By January 1, 2012 Ontario business must have employees trained with polices and procedures in place to deliver appropriate customer service to customers with disabilities.

Source: www.cfib-fcei.ca

Optimal Performance Consultant’s research finds only 30% of small & med size businesses are compliant with the first phase of the AODA called Customer Service Standards, CSS. This number is even lower for the IASR, Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulations.The AODA is not a large cost item for small/med business to undertake. The AODA will impact Ontario’s economic recovery by having more PwD (People with Disabilities) in the workforce & becoming tax payers. Need to learn more? Join OPC Inc’s team of IT, ID & strategic experts April 8th a.m. Steelcase Toronto AODA@optimalperformance.ca

See on Scoop.itInclusive

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Worth repeating a conversation in Architectural Signage Group Linked In – Ergonomics is the science behind Signage and Wayfinding

HI Folks at Architectural Signage Linked In Group

…. OPC’s Jane Sleeth weighing in as the questions you are asking have been well researched over the last number of decades – both the distance one can read a sign from and the size and type of icons which should be used on signs. What you are asking is in fact a large part of Universal Design as it relates to the development and use of icons.
This expertise is housed in the specialist areas of ergonomics called Universal or Accessible design and in the science of Signage and Wayfinding. Our lead Architect at Optimal has completed her Masters of Science in the UK on this specialist topic and now teaches this at OCADU in Ontario Canada to design and architectural students.

Our team of specialists works with clients in this exact area in which you are asking about. We audit the type of signage, purpose for the signage, how it ties in with wayfinding and measure distances in which the signs are intended to be read from, the type of person who will be reading the signs etc ie. with a view to ensure ADA, DDA (UK and Australia) or AODA (Canada) compliance to name a few of the data points we collect.

Sign design companies need to work with ergonomics & accessibility experts to design effective signs

Sign design companies need to work with ergonomics & accessibility experts to design effective signs

Once all of this data is collected and reviewed this is compared to the human factors and wayfinding evidence.
Designs are then made in tandem with the design/sign designers to not only ensure proper design and graphics but also ensure proper installation and maintenance of the sign(s) installed.
Designers of signage and wayfinding systems need to understand there is a science of ergonomics and accessible design that exists and that these are the experts whom you want to team with to get the right answers and design into place.
Jane Sleeth Cheryl Giraudy Architect and MSc. Wayfinding

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