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

Posted in Ergonomics, Sit to stand Workstations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Institute for Workplace Health Researcher finds 22-44% of office workers have pain in their neck, shoulder, arms/hands.

In any given year, anywhere from 24 to 44 per cent of office workers report the presence of pain and discomfort in their neck, shoulder, arms or hands, according to large-scale surveys conducted by or reviewed by The Institute for Workplace Health, in Toronto.

A less-than-optimal set-up of a computer workstation can increase the risk for musculoskeletal disorders and poorer workplace performance,” says IWH Senior Scientist Dr. Ben Amick, who led the research team.

Not only are MSI's a significant cause of presenteeism in your office it is increases risk for employee complaints & lowered morale.

Not only are MSI’s a significant cause of presenteeism in your office it is increases risk for employee complaints & lowered morale.

OPC Inc finds this to be an interesting statistic which is similar to the findings of our annual data & trends review conducted by our research team. So if this is the case why do so many office workplaces still not use ergonomic and human factors expertise before they build a new office, or move to a new floor up upgrade their furniture and design?

89% of employers in Canada wait to engage the services of ergonomic/human factors specialists AFTER they commence a design/build, move, or office upgrade project. This costs anywhere from 9 to 100% more in consulting costs after the fact over a 3 year time period following design/build, move, office upgrade projects. The old adage pay me now or pay me later (and more) holds true for ergonomics.

Before the “blue prints” or move plans are made please contact the ergonomic/human factors design specialists at OPC Inc to at least discuss how best to manage the human factor (the highest cost in all workplaces) for the entire project on a strategic and operationalized basis.

Call us at 1 888 768-2106 or INFO@optimalperformance.ca
We can provide reviews of case studies recently and successfully completed for our clients across the country. We can also review the real ROI for using our services at the planning stage versus after the move when 24-44% of your employees develop symptoms and injury.

Posted in accessible design, design, Ergonomics, Ergonomics in Design | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Academy Awards Ad Makes Pitch To Disability Market – Disability Scoop

Academy Awards Ad Makes Pitch To Disability Market – Disability Scoop.


How do people with disabilities “watch” and consume media? How does a 7 year old blind girl watching a movie? How does someone who is deaf “listen” to music on Sirius radio?

Disabled Employees can Forum Shop from WSIB to Human Rights, to Civil Suits to AODA; Be Prepared
Check out this ad which aired during the Academy Awards and see how quickly technology companies are moving to scoop up the disability market. Still think the AODA is not real? Check again.

OPC Inc…….looking to work with forward thinking companies who “get” accessibility. Contact us AODA@optimalperformance.ca

Posted in accessibility, Accessibility in Ontario, Accessible, accessible design, Accessible Technology, Accessible Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BOMA-Toronto AODA Breakfast Seminar March 24th Jane Sleeth OPC Inc

Breakfast Seminar BOMA- Toronto

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is the Law. What Building Owners and Facility Managers must know in order to Comply.

Tuesday, March 24 2015 | 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. | Acadian Court – 401 Bay Street West

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is an innovative yet complex regulation passed by the Ontario Government with the goal of developing a fully accessible province for persons with disabilities by 2025. The law takes a proactive approach with respect to accessibility by developing and implementing accessibility standards. There are now 3 main Standards in place including Customer Service Standard, the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR) which includes Design of Public Space; and now the Ontario Building Code which contains major changes to barrier free design in both public and private sector built environments starting January 2015! This is starting to be noticed finally by the commercial real-estate sector.

Before December 31, 2014, obligated organizations with 20 or more employees should have filed a second report informing the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario that they are in compliance and achieving accessibility under the Customer Service Standard. On December 31, 2014, organizations with 50 or more employees should have reported they have IASR Accessibility Policies plus a written Multi-Year Accessibility Plan. This must include plans for barrier-free design of all public space both inside and external to your buildings. There are number of training + Ontario Building Code requirements which came into effect January 1, 2015.

Members of BOMA-Toronto can attend no charge. Non-members are welcome to attend at a cost of $50.00. Please contact BOMA-Toronto to sign up as seating is limited.

Is your company compliant with the CSS and IASR for the AODA in Ontario? What do you know about the Ontario Building Code's new barrier free design?

Is your company compliant with the CSS and IASR for the AODA in Ontario? What do you know about the Ontario Building Code’s new barrier free design?

Posted in Accessibility in Ontario, Accessible, accessible design, AODA, AODA Act, AODA Experts, Build Code | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BEKANT Desk sit/stand – IKEA Optimal Performance’s Ergonomic Team Product Review

BEKANT Desk sit/stand – birch veneer/white – IKEA.

For employees who have a bona fide medical issue such as discogenic back injury with referred symptoms past the knee(s), or employees with DVT risk coupled with job demands which truly require them to sit for long periods of time (customer contact centres, accounting, call centres) this is a solution worth looking at. The range of heights meets the Anthropometric stature of the smallest female to tall male & the mechanism to operate is intuitive. The price is right compared to the larger office furniture companies. OPC Inc Ergonomic Team Review

OPC Inc has no affiliation with any furniture company nor do we receive any financial incentive to promote or recommend any products at any time.

Posted in Back Pain, Choosing ergonomic chairs; Ergonomics, Ergonomic design; Ergonomics | Leave a comment

Trends regarding Ergonomics and Accessibility for Managers to learn more about

What is Ergonomics? ….the frustrating thing about ergonomics is two fold; 1. many companies think ergonomics is about “posture” and buying equipment which represents a very limited approach to ergonomics and 2. when people who are not qualified ergonomists such as patient practitioners including chiropractors, ot’s and PT’s or equipment and furniture sales people get involved with significant ergonomic design and ergonomic challenges this damages how companies view and understand ergonomics. This more often than not results in the application of the science and; the application of evidence not occurring in the workplace and managers deciding to no longer pursue ergonomics in the workplace. Reading about these challenges is an important reminder as to how qualified Ergonomic Professionals can and do contribute to major industrial, human factors, cognitive/behavioural and productivity challenges in the workplace today…

OPC’s ongoing AODA Seminars; OPC Inc will be running a 3 hour Seminar at the accessible Steelcase Toronto lecture room April 8th 2015. We will review important concepts about how the AODA legislation came about; how the AODA fits in with the Human Rights Code for Ontario; what your company must do to achieve compliance as well as a review of the real ROI which occurs when businesses not only comply but undertake best practices ahead of their competitors. Join Jane Sleeth, Kim Walker OBC expert and Interior Designer, and Jason Chiles IT/Technical expert in accessibility. To sign up for our early bird rate of $150.00 please contact Carla Mardonet AODA@optimalperformance.ca

Making your Business accessible allows you to tap into a large & underserved market; PwD

Making your Business accessible allows you to tap into a large & underserved market; PwD

Cutting thru the marketing of Sit to Stand Workstations….. the use of sit to stand percentages of 80 Seated-20% Standing you recommended assumes that ALL employees have healthy cardiac muscles; do not have high blood pressure; have no history of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis): no history of or risk for varicose veins. Further, employees who are hypotensive (low blood pressure) tend to faint more readily when in a standing posture especially when the standing is static in nature, such as at a sit to stand workstation.
At OPC Inc. we do not represent lines of furniture, seating or equipment. Therefore we rely solely on the science of Ergonomics and Physiology to guide this whole discussion about Sit to Stand workstations. Employees with whom we work with who truly have a bone fide need to stand and sit (based on underlying and real medical issues) coupled with the physical demands of their job (and cognitive demands) are asked by our consultants to trial standing more often when performing tasks such as phone calls, reading documents, impromptu meetings in standing (this shortens the length of meetings as well); to commence using the stairs at work; and to start a walking exercise program at least 3 days per week during lunch. An employee who is truly motivated by their symptoms and job demands to move more will follow this advice. Then and only then would we recommend Sit to Stand workstations PROVIDED the employee will use changes of posture at least on a 30 min 30 min basis (average time given here as this formula is determined/calculated as part of the ergonomic assessment).
I hope the science of ergonomics (not sponsored by any furniture manufacturer or dealer) will prevail along with a more balanced understanding as to how standing can be just as much of an issue medically for people as static sitting. These ergonomic questions require more complex decision-making than relying on anecdotal discussions. We suggest companies consult with qualified and certified Ergonomic Consultants who can limit the liabilities that are about to occur with the use of Sit to Stand desks as the panacea for employee’s physical complaints.

Read more about this in optimalperformanceblog.com as these decisions can increase an organizations business risk related to detrimental health outcomes and employee relations. JESleeth, Taya McGillivary, Jacob Thadickal Sr Ergonomists OPC Inc.

Posted in accessibility, Accessibility in Ontario, Accessible, accessible design, ADA, AODA, AODA Act, ergonomic standards, Ergonomics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

TLOMA – TLOMA February 2015 Jane Sleeth featured in a timely AODA Article for Law Firms

AODA@optimalperformance We will make sense of  your next steps for IASR and OBC Compliance

AODA@optimalperformance We will make sense of your next steps for IASR and OBC Compliance

TLOMA – TLOMA February 2015.

Article by Jane Sleeth of OPC Inc re what is next for compliance with the AODA for Law Practices in Ontario.

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

What is next for the AODA in 2015 and Compliance? Many new requirements including the OBC

Wondering what is next for 2015 and the AODA and your Company?
Remember the goal is an accessible Ontario by 2025 so there are many things to accomplish and report on including:

-All employees in large organizations need to received training on the Ontario Human Rights Code as it pertains to the IASR
Feedback processes should be deliverable in accessible format
-The Ontario Building Code is in effect as of Jan 2015 so your built environment should be audited for accessible design should renovations be planned.
-Small organizations must consider accessibility issues when designing, procuring or acquiring self-service kiosks
-Small organizations must develop and implement accessibility policies.
-Public Space Accessible Design still is in the works from the 2012 IASR’s Public Space design requirements
-If your organization updated or developed a new web page from 2012 onwards this must meet WCAG 2.0 Level A Continue reading

Posted in accessibility, Accessibility in Ontario, Accessible, AODA, AODA Act, AODA Consultants; | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment