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

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Great to see more restaurants and bars being reviewed based on their accessibility levels and even universal design elements. These are few and far between – the OBC will only raise the bar slightly higher. OPC Inc.

Originally posted on accessto.ca:

66 Wellington St W, Toronto, ON M5K 1M6

DSCN2091Call for reservation: (416) 777-1144

Bymark is the creation of Toronto-based celebrity restauranteur Mark McEwan, host of Top Chef Canada and author of Great Food At Home.

All of Mark McEwan’s restaurants are accessible (including already reviewed Fabbrica!) so don’t let the two-step outdoor entrance to Bymark trick you. There is an alternate entrance in the PATH, so there are several ways to get to this fine dining establishment. 

If you drive, it is simple to get to Bymark via the Toronto Dominion Centre parking garage on the north side of Wellington, directly between Bay and York. This parking garage has wide double doors with automatic door openers. Take one of the spacious elevators to the concourse level and you will find yourself in the PATH.

You can also get to the PATH via the Toronto Dominion Centre building, which is open…

View original 253 more words

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OPC Inc. conducts on-going Qualitative Research about Open Office Design’s costly losses

Learn more about this topic at upcoming seminars by Optimal Performance Consultants.

Learn more about this topic at upcoming seminars by Optimal Performance Consultants at Steelcase Canada’s well designed showroom.

OPC Inc. conducts on-going Qualitative Research about Open Office Design’s costly losses

As part of OPC Inc’s ongoing qualitative research regarding office design, we undertook this past week, interviews with 3 employees who work in 3 very different types of companies, all of which have moved to an open office design in the last 2 years. As part of this research we pose specific open-ended questions to elicit feedback & thoughts on their experience as employees working in very open office environments.

One of the employees we interviewed escapes to her home office 2-3 times per week despite needing to be around her team on a regular basis for collaboration & communication.

Another of the employees we interviewed puts earphones on her ears to block out noise which means she is not available to her team. She also has to announce loudly to the employees sitting near her that she is about to attend a conference call at her desk (booking small conference rooms is next to impossible on a consistent basis) and for everyone to keep their voices down.

....Yet do not take into account the human factor.

….Yet do not take into account the human factor.

A third employee works in the safety & product testing department of a company which manufacturers transportation vehicles. His job is so safety sensitive that mistakes by he and his team could result in significant injury & accidents should the vehicles fail. During conference calls with his global team of suppliers & sub-assemblers this employee let us know he misses pieces of key information during these calls as conversations which occur around his workstation interfere with his ability to focus & listen to issues which have arisen! He is rarely able to book a small conference room for these calls as there quickly occurred a shortage of these rooms soon after they moved into their new offices.

Conducting similar research within your own companies is straight forward & takes little time and effort on the part of operations, human resources and managers. At OPC Inc we believe many of the design firms, facility managers & corporate real estate managers do not want to know fully what the impacts of open design are on employees.

Employees, if and when asked will respond even after a period of “getting used to the open designs” that their productivity levels are lower; attention to details diminished; feelings of being “overstimulated” and distracted hard to deal with on a day to day basis. And yes, safety related details are also being impacted.

At the end of the day it is real estate costs being measured and found to be lower by having more employees in a smaller footprint and by having no designs to allow employees to have quiet areas in which to think and work. The problem is the cost savings is not being measured against the departments who measure safety, lost time from work, productivity and presenteeism. How ironic given that the very human beings who add the largest value to all companies are being neglected all for the sake of saving real estate costs.

Poorly designed open offices which have not taken into account the human factor via ergonomic experts is resulting in a shortage of spontaneous meeting areas & a lack of areas for “escape” especially for introverted employees or those who need quiet for concentrative types of job demands.

This growing issue truly needs to be seriously looked at by all Facility Managers, building owners & managers,, corporate real estate, architects and designers. To read related research we direct you to Steelcase’s 360 Magazine and White Papers. It is time for C Suite Managers to make sure the spreadsheets showing real estate savings also have information about employee turnover, presenteeism and absenteeism, lost time mental health issues and human error costs. Then and only then will proper human factors design be used to make sure all designs meet the human beings who have to use these spaces day after day in the workplace.

The ergonomic design team at Optimal Performance Consultants Inc.

Posted in accessible design, Ergonomics, Ergonomics in Design, Ergonomics in office design, Open Office Concepts, Open Office Design, open offices, Optimal Performance | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Minimal exercise can counteract sedentary lifestyle | Toronto Star Dr Dina Brooks

The only way to prevent ergonomic risks associated with sitting is DYNAMIC movement NOT sit to stand workstations

The only way to prevent ergonomic risks associated with sitting is DYNAMIC movement NOT sit to stand workstations

Minimal exercise can counteract sedentary lifestyle | Toronto Star.

I went to U of T with Dr Dina Brooks. She was one smart cookie then in this area of expertise and clearly remains so today. Have a read all you sedentary employees ….read this in standing before you head out for your walk would be even better.

Read this article very slowly so you can see what Dr Brooks is saying. It is DYNAMIC MOVEMENT which is required to offset the impact of sedentary or what we call static sitting.
The use of sit to stand workstations which results in sedentary/static standing postures is NOT the same as DYNAMIC movement such as holding walking meetings, using the stairs vs the elevator, regular walking during lunch, performing exercises around your work area.

They key word is dynamic. There is no evidence in the literature which shows benefits in standing statically via sit to stand workstations. There is evidence which has been reviewed in previous Blogs by OPC Inc. to show the cardio & vascular risks associated with static standing.

Our recommendation remains the same to our clients; 1. do not fall into the marketing trap which tells you sit to stand workstations are a panacea; 2 do not let outside doctors and therapists dictate what equipment your employee should be provided with (that is the job of the ergonomists who know and have measured your workloads and job demands).

A copy of this article on every employee’s desk or in box is a good first step in getting employees moving each and every day.

Read more evidence by Dr Dina Brooks at the University of Toronto, and some of the key work at Cornell University on the evidence for static sitting postures as being a health plus an ergonomic risk.

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Do 65% of employers in Ontario not care about hiring or keeping employees with disabilities?

65% of employers in Ontario as of this week are NOT compliant with the basic Customer Service Standards of the AODA.
Does this send a very strong message to PwD that 65% of employers and/or businesses do not care about hiring or keeping disabled employees or care about their disabled and aging clients/customers?

That is the feedback we are getting from our disabled co-workers, friends and business associates who happen to have a disability.

Learn more April 8th 8:30 to 11 as it is not too late to get caught up about the AODA & learn how to comply.

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.

Jane Sleeth OPC Inc Kim Walker OBC Certified and Interior Designer Jason Chiles IT Specialist AODAOptimalperformance.ca

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Mayo Moran’s review of the AODA by First Reference Forget Compliance Look at the Business Case

Hey Ontario; wake up and see how large & wealthy aging and PwD are

Hey Ontario; wake up and see how large & wealthy aging and PwD are

Source: blog.firstreference.com

65% of companies in Ontario are NOT compliant with the basic CSS Phase 1 of the AODA Act. This means PwD + aging populations in Canada cannot access the workplace fully, cannot access retail and restaurants or vacation spots in which to spend their money. The marketplace worldwide for PwD is the same size as China. Ontario businesses need to wake up to realize that designing products, software, hardware, services, built environments which take into account PwD plus their families will bring about huge growth in the Ontario economy & business success. Never mind the use of compliance – wake up and act like businesses looking for new markets who have money to spend.  JESleeth and; The Accessibility team at OPC Inc. Learn more by attending our April 8th Breakfast event at the Steelcase education centre, King St Toronto ON. AODA @optimalperformance.ca 

See on Scoop.itHuman Factors Design

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Open Office Designs are leading to distracted and more error prone employees

These designs sure save real estate costs. Neurological and cognitive research finds these are negative to employee's work abilities.

These designs sure save real estate costs. Neurological and cognitive research finds these are negative to employee’s work abilities.

Remember when education gurus experimented with open classrooms? I was one of thousands of products of that not so brilliant, failed experiment.

Cognitive experts and brain imaging studies clearly show the human brain functions optimally when there is quiet, uninterrupted space available to employees….and students.
We get it at Optimal Performance and are not naïve to the fact that real estate savings are a critical part of downtown business mandates. However, we also know that employees are the single most expensive investment in a company’s profitability and success.
If innovative designers, architects and furniture manufacturers don’t use the science of human factors design by hiring ergonomic design specialists, we will, in our practice continue to interview & hear from employees how they are not able to provide their best work in the workplace.

What a waste of expensive human talent and abilities. Read more about this and related ergonomic, human factors and accessible design at optimalperformanceblog.com

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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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