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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There is a lot of “noise” in the Ergonomic world about Sit to Stand Portable Stands

There is a lot of “noise” these days in the world of Ergonomics about the need to use Sit to Stand workstations including the use of Portable Stands (see photo).

At Optimal Performance our consultants are being increasingly asked if these desk top sit to stand units are a good alternative to sit to stand workstations.

Without getting into detail for this Blog the quick answer based as always on the science of ergonomics is posed as a question:

1. Does the employee have to sit statically for at least 34-66% of each day. (by have to this means they work in a call centre or safety sensitive position (operating a crane, observing screens at a security desk, monitoring screens at a nuclear facility) whereby they truly must sit in place to interact with the public, safety sensitive equipment or customers?

2. Does the employee have a bona fide medical condition that will clearly benefit from changing from a seated to standing posture on a regular basis thru the day. Examples include a bona fide and properly diagnosed discogenic injury with sciatica; diabetes with diabetic neuropathy: a history of DVT/Deep Vein Thrombosis to name a few.

If the answer to both of these questions is yes, then we can more certain (based on this objective criteria) that the changing of postures using a sit-to-stand workstation is a sound recommendation. This becomes a more successful recommendation when it is combined with the correct training on how to adjust the workstation and  how often to adjust from sitting to standing & when to use the workstation. Couple this with supervision of employees on the proper and ongoing use of the workstations and your company will see objective improvements in the employee’s physical symptoms, function and productivity.

Now that we have established the objective conditions for where a sit to stand workstation is required, the next question we are being asked is; instead of a sit to stand workstation can we simply purchase a desk top unit for the employee.  The answer is “it depends”. Again we go to the data we have collected in workplaces across Canada who have trialed these units to properly answer this question.  The 5 questions that your Facility Management team and purchasing team need to ask are the following:

  1. When this desktop unit is in place what is the horizontal reach distance in both standing and sitting postures to access the keyboard and the mouse based on a 5th percentile female stature?
  2. Has the company who sells these units tested the equipment and been certified with BIFMA and the CSA. THis should include weight testing of the unit to guarantee the unit will not tip on the desk or person during its use (there are 2 documented cases of these desk top units tipping onto the floor of one client’s and onto the employee in another client’s case)
  3. Are there other items that need to be purchased outside of the unit’s base price that will actually make the price similar to a sit to stand workstation by the time this is all said and done? (many of the manufacturers of these desk top units cause you to purchase accessories to ensure the units work properly!). This quickly increases the real cost of these desk top units.
  4. Can the desk top sit-to-stand unit allow the keyboard and mouse section to be lowered to the 5th percentile female elbow height (between 25-27″). This is not possible to allow for unless the workstation upon which the unit will sit is lowered. The cost for your internal or external furniture dealer to lower the workstation needs to now be factored in when comparing these units costs to an actual sit to stand workstation.
  5. Does a certified installer from the sit to stand dealer need to come in to install the unit? How quickly are they able to have the certified installer at your workplace? What is the cost for the installer per unit installed?
  6. If the unit is installed internally by the client themselves does this void the warranty on the sit to stand unit?

At the end of the day the two lessons to come out of all the hype about sit to stand workstations in the workplace is two-fold A. Your Ergonomic consultant should review the job demands to determine if static sitting is truly a bona fide occupational requirement of the job for at least 34-66% of each day  + the Ergonomist should converse with the MD or Physiotherapist or other rehabilitation provider to determine the actual nature of the medical/physical diagnosis.  A simple sore back or a perception on the part of the employee that a sit to stand posture would be helpful is NOT a bona fide reason for these to be purchased  AND B. if Sit to Stand postures are indicated make sure the ACTUAL cost of a desk top unit is measured against the cost of a workstation (don’t forget companies such as Steelcase and Teknion will keep the desktop itself and add the sit to stand mechanism to the desktop for a lower cost and to ensure the workstation matches re furniture standards).

As you can see from this and the many Blogs we have written via OptimalPerformanceBlog, excellence in Ergonomics demands that your company contract with high level, science based Ergonomic firms who know about ergonomics, how to measure demands of work, have a clear understanding of medical conditions, and can work closely with your facility management, design and CRE teams.  This is the only way to guarantee compliance with each Province’s mandatory ergonomic standards and also ensure the right equipment is provided to the right employee at the right time.

Contact one of our experts at Optimal Performance to learn how we can help.

Posted in Ergonomics, Sit to stand Workstations, Sitting is the new smoking, sitting will kill you | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Former Lieutenant Governor to Champion Accessibility in Ontario AODA

Former Lieutenant Governor to Champion Accessibility in Ontario Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments.

What a great and natural choice in D Onley to champion the AODA in other sectors and locations around the world. AT OPC Inc we are really seeing the potential & realized benefits in using this very unique approach to develop accessibility for the Province. The ROI is there waiting for private business to take early advantage of this over their competitors. Congratulations Mr Onley.

Learn more about the AODA at AODA@optimalpeformance.ca

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Former Lieutenant Governor to Champion Accessibility in Ontario

Ontario has appointed The Honourable David C. Onley as a special advisor on accessibility to champion opportunities for people of all abilities in the public and private sectors. As former Lieutena…

Source: globalaccessibilitynews.com

What a great and natural choice in D Onley to champion the AODA in other sectors and locations around the world. AT OPC Inc we are really seeing the potential & realized benefits in using this very unique approach to develop accessibility for the Province. The ROI is there waiting for private business to take early advantage of this over their competitors. Congratulations Mr Onley.  

See on Scoop.itInclusive

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Conditional Building Permits: A Very Useful Tool | The Lay of the Land

There are many situations in which a developer may need to begin construction before a certain date, but cannot get their building permit in time. In Ontario that is usually because they cannot yet meet some very minor “applicable law” requirement that, according the Building Code Act, they must comply with in order to obtain the permit.[1]

A conditional building permit can often get around this problem, even though many municipalities in Ontario use them so infrequently that they seem barely aware that they have the authority to issue them. Conditional building permits are authorized pursuant to s. 8(3) of the Building Code Act, and allow an applicant to proceed with construction even though all “applicable law” requirements necessary to obtain a building permit have not yet been met. Instead, there is only a much shorter and less onerous list of “applicable law” requirements that must be met.[2] Even in larger municipalities conditional building permits are not always raised as an option to applicants, even if they could potentially benefit in reduced fees and commence their construction much sooner.

Some of the more common circumstances in which a conditional building permit can be useful include:

Beating an upcoming development charge (or other fee)

Source: www.canadianrealpropertylawblog.com

It will be interesting in going forward into January 2015 when the OBC’s Accessibility Requirements come into effect if these Conditional Building Permits will be granted or will the Municipalities really stick behind the AODA Design of Public Spaces & the ABES or Accessible Building requirements to not issue Building Permits. A serious approach by the City will ensure Permits are not granted unless and until ALL aspects of the ABES are in place to ensure ALL people in the province can access buildings, retail, hotels, casino’s, theatres, restaurants and sporting facilities etc. Time to become aware of the AODA in your business and comply to make certain Ontario prospers in the new economy.

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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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