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:

perceivable
operable
understandable
robust

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

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Comply With the AODA or Pay the Piper | Ontario Employer Advisor

Comply With the AODA or Pay the Piper | Ontario Employer Advisor.

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AODA regulations

Since the Ontario government proposed changes to the barrier-free requirements of the Ontario Building Code (OBC), under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), the new amendments, although applauded, have been a source of confusion for many building owners and managers across the province.

Source: www.reminetwork.com

Read more about this if your company is a Property Management, REIT, Property owner and FM related firm. The AODA has deadlines for your companies including the mandatory Multi-Year Plan. Don’t get caught with Human Rights or AODA Non-Compliance fines. Contact JESleeth AODA@optimalperformance.ca

See on Scoop.itUniversal design

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Times Up Ontario Employers; The AODA requires Mandatory Compliance Steps by Dec 31 2014!!

Time’s up ONTARIO private employers!! With 4 companies having been fined by the Directorate, a large increase in Human Rights Tribunal cases, civil suits commencing (see settlement of suit against …

Source: optimalperformanceblog.com

Time’s up; the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario is serious and fines are being levied, Human Rights Cases heard, civil suits launched and won, and private employer’s brands being impacted by negative press and social media.  By Dec 31st your company needs to have in place compliance with Fire Code related, IASR and Public Space accessible design elements. Your Mult-Year Plans are due. Contact us at AODA@optimalperformance.ca to make sense of all of this and ensure compliance by the deadlines required.

See on Scoop.itUniversal design

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Times Up Ontario Employers; The AODA requires Mandatory Compliance Steps by Dec 31 2014!!

Time’s up ONTARIO private employers!!

With 4 companies having been fined by the Directorate, a large increase in Human Rights Tribunal cases, civil suits commencing (see settlement of suit against an inaccessible hotel in Toronto ON) and timelines closing in regarding the IASR, Fire Code Requirements, Public Space design requirements (inside and outside) and now the OBC commencing Jan 1, 2015 the AODA is clearly here to stay.

To understanding what the compliance and best practice requirements are please contact one of our AODA specialists at AODA@optimalperformance.ca  We are here to make sense of all of these moving parts and help you to move towards your Multi-Year Plan documents and mandatory reporting thru Service Ontario.

JESleeth C Giraudy Arch K Denome ID, OBC Certified & OPC’s Audit and Ergonomic Team

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ERGONOMIC TREND UPDATE; Employees are DEMANDING Sit to Stand Workstations!

Employers in Canada and US please be aware!

Strong marketing programs on the part of furniture manufacturers and the media’s penchant for looking for the panacea related to sitting at work are resulting in employees demanding, yes demanding, sit to stand workstations!

Wellbeing in the Workplace is in large part about well designed and maintained facilities.

Wellbeing in the Workplace is in large part about well designed and maintained facilities.

At OPC we want our clients and employers to expect an influx of employees asking for sit to stand workstations and going as far as having their Physiotherapist or MD write a note to this effect. In some cases which we have seen already with some clients, the employee complains they did not like their Ergonomist and their recommendations and request a second assessment.

In order to be proactive with our clients we will continue to ensure we only recommend sit to stand workstations where the ergonomic, medical and JDA indicators prove this is required.  Remember at OPC Inc we DO NOT Represent any lines of furniture or seating or equipment. This leaves us free to recommend solutions which are best for the employee and client!

OPC Inc will stay the course with our evidence based and written standards based approach.

We advise our clients however that they need to meet with us to develop Internal Ergonomic Standards documents + Written Communiques (including how they will handle doctors notes and PT notes). Contact us at Info@optimalperformance.ca to arrange a meeting with one of our experts regarding the development of the Standards and the Communiques.

If employers do not do this they are going to find themselves vulnerable to employees making complaints to the WCB/WSIB and/or Ministry of Labour, Internal Ombudsman in the case of financial institutions, and even Human Rights complaints or AODA & ADA based complaints.

It used to be that office environments were pretty straight forward regarding ergonomic analysis and recommendations. Now that employees are more informed about the Ergonomic Standards in place for each province and thru OSHA and NIOSH in the US, coupled with the media and furniture manufacturers marketing efforts, we predict this is going to be a large issue for HR, Facility Managers, I Designers and Operations.

We can help prevent this trend in your workplace. Contact Carla or Jamila at 1 888 768-2106 or Info@optimalperformance.ca

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FedEx sued for discrimination against workers with hearing disabilities

In Ontario the stakes just got higher. Employers who do not hire qualified disabled employees may face penalties.

In Ontario the stakes just got higher. Employers who do not hire qualified disabled employees may face penalties.

FedEx sued for discrimination against workers with hearing disabilities Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments.

OPC Inc recommends employers in Ontario take a close look at this EEC ruling. This very closely mimics the requirement now under the IASR phase of the AODA Act for Ontario ie. whereby employers must ensure they recruit, hire, train, promote and provide performance reviews in an accessible way for all disabled potential employees. This includes in this case providing close captioning on recruitment websites, ASL interpretors being available, initial testing which is accessible. A strategic approach with proper budgets for implementation & on-going support from Sr Managers are key ingredients in making sure the AODA succeeds in its application in the workplace. Ask our AODA team how to get a process started in your workplace as the risks for brand & corporate image damage, law suits, Human Rights Complaints and AODA Directorate Penalties are high in both USA and Canada. AODA@optimalperformance.ca

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Tribunal fines Employers for Contraventions of the AODA reports Optimal Performance’s AODA experts; Employers Beware!

Tribunal fines Employers for Contraventions of the AODA; Attention BOMA Members, IFMA, FAMOS & OPC Clients


September 30, 2014

JESleeth

Over the Summer 2014, the License Appeal Tribunal, which has jurisdiction over the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (the “AODA”) in Ontario, released its first decisions regarding AODA compliance. When the first compliance deadlines under the AODA arrived in 2011 & 2012 there was minimal enforcement activity for private companies. Over the past two years however, the Provincial government has increased enforcement measures. OPC Inc feels our clients should be aware of the AODA obligations particularly as it relates to the Ontario Build Code passed December 27 2013 and coming into full force January 1 2015.  With this along with the IASR (Integrated Accessibility Standards) there are upcoming deadlines with associated noncompliance penalties.

Fines will become larger over time with inaccessible design

Private employers in Ontario have had to be compliant with the Customer Service Standard of the AODA since at least January 1, 2012. Compliance included a requirement to file an Accessibility Report (we hope our readers have the CSS well in hand & have reported to the Ministry).

The four recent AODA decisions released by the License Appeal Tribunal included administrative penalties levied against organizations that failed to file their Accessibility Reports with Service Ontario.

In all four cases, the Tribunal reduced the fine imposed by the Director of the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario (the “Director”). The Directorate had imposed a fine of $2,000 on each of the organizations for failure to file an Accessibility Report. Under the AODA regulations, there is a schedule to assist the Director in determining the appropriate penalty. When imposing an administrative penalty, the Director takes into account the impact of the contravention and the history of contravention on the part of the employer. For corporations, the administrative penalties range from $500 to $15,000.

serviceOntarioELaws_EN

The Director imposed a penalty of $2,000 on each of these corporations, on the basis that the failure to file an Accessibility Report was a major contravention, since the AODA relies on self-reporting to monitor compliance. The Tribunal disagreed with the Director, finding that failing to file an Accessibility Report was a minor contravention. Since this was the first AODA reporting cycle, there was no contravention history so this factor had no comparison. With respect to the impact of the contravention, under the AODA a contravention is considered to have a major impact where, for examle, it may pose a health and safety risk to persons with disabilities (PwD). In this case, the Tribunal found that the contravention did not meet this level. In three of the decisions, the Tribunal reduced the fine to $500. 

These financial penalties for now are not large however this signals that the Directorate and the Tribunal are actively engaged in AODA enforcement matters. OPC expects to see harsher penalties in the future as we move into the IASR, Emergency Plans, Design of Public Spaces (such as areas surrounding your Buildings) and the Ontario Build Code where health, safety, dignity and independence is impacted.  

Further to this, Administrative penalties are not the only enforcement tool the Director and Tribunal have in place.  Fines for offences under the AODA can reach up to $50,000 for each and every day or part day that an offence happens for individuals (and corporate directors) and up to $100,000 for corporations

On or before December 31, 2014, large private sector employers (50 & >) will need to file another Accessibility Report. Further, commencing January 1, 2014, large private sector employers had to be compliant with some new requirements under the AODA Integrated Accessibility Standard, including the creation of an Accessibility Policy and an Accessibility Plan as well as written Multi-Year Plans due every 5 years.

It is our suggestion at OPC that any new buildings being planned by your businesses in Ontario or for buildings being renovated, commence using parts of the OBC’s ABES Standards this Fall – such as Universal Washrooms, Signage and Wayfinding, Accessible entrance doors and elevator design. It is also our suggestion that as projects move along that IT, Technology, HR, Build Owners & Managers all convene together to ensure the IASR requirements, the Multi-Year Plan documents, Intranet, Websites, Built Environment and ergonomic design are all coordinated. Once coordinated, mandatory compliance reporting can occur well before compliance dates occur.

OPC Inc Clients – The Ontario Tribunal are now ensuring investigation of lack of compliance with the AODA occurs and they are also awarding per diem financial penalties.

The AODA is here to stay and this is being enforced.  OPC Inc’s AODA team is ready to help build your program, provide elearning or video based training and perform Build Code Compliance Audits.

Please contact our team at AODA@optimalperformance.ca to set up an initial meeting to talk about a strategic approach to AODA compliance.  JESleeth Team Leader AODA

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