Employees through Health and Wellness
recent survey of Canadian employers conducted by HR services provider
Hewitt Associates found that respondents expect 43% of employees will
retire early, and less than 11% will work past age 65. Half of these employees
are already age 40 or older.
For these respondents, retirement is less an issue than replacement.
This looming labour shortage is already reaching crisis proportions in
Alberta, where wages are shooting skyward as employers battle to retain
But more money isn’t the only perk that can be dangled in front
of workers. What else? Well, the answer depends on whom you ask.
Pets: the hidden solution?
The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association sees bringing Bowser
to work as one option, and according to another recent survey, so do many
US companies. The results suggest almost one in five American workplaces
allows pets at work. According to the survey,
- 55 million Americans believe pets in the workplace lead to a more
- 53 million believe they decrease absenteeism
- 50 million believe they help co-workers get along better
- 38 million believe they create a more productive work environment
- 32 million believe they decrease smoking in the workplace
- 37 million believe they help improve the relationship between managers
and their employees, and
- 46 million people who bring their pets to the workplace work longer
Are pets at work the solution?
Well, no, but they may be a partial solution, and a prime example of what
Hewitt Associates says we need more of: flexibility. "With an employee
population so diverse in terms of age,” says company principal John
Tompkins, “a 'one size fits all' approach is no longer effective.
Employers who can identify and meet the different needs of their employees
will be most successful in the current labour market."
Cathy Course, a senior benefits consultant with Hewitt, recommends taking
a disciplined approach to deciding whether to make changes in workplace
programs and benefits. "We recommend organizations undergo a process
to audit their current talent pool, assess their future workforce needs,
and then determine what they want to change and how that fits within their
budget," says Course.
Topping the list
Health and wellness programming is gaining increasing recognition as
a means of keeping employees healthy, happy, and fit. And by extension,
productive, loyal, and less likely to head off for greener pastures.
Such programming can take a number of forms. Some are worker focused,
such as lifestyle programming. Others are job focused, such as ergonomic
assessments to ensure a good fit between workers and job tasks. Still
others look at workplace culture. Does it encourage creativity, productivity
and personal growth? Does it promote a healthy work/life balance? Does
it protect workers from violence and bullying?
Each approach is just one part of a broader solution. As Cathy Course
suggests, the process begins with an audit. Where are you now, where to
do you want to go, and what do you have to put in place to get there?
workers risk electrocution almost as much as certified lineworkers or
Not in your workplace? Wake up.
Fact: Workplace Safety and Insurance
Board statistics for 2004 show that, right here in Ontario, 92 workers
experienced lost-time injuries due to electrical burns. Another 82 died
from electrocution and electric shock.
Fact: Electrical safety is a critical
element of your OHS program if your organization is involved in operating
and maintaining facilities and equipment, construction, process design,
electrical safety services, or the installation of equipment.
Fact: Contact with only a minute
amount of electrical energy can kill. The current drawn by a small 7.5
watt, 120-volt lamp, passed from hand to hand or hand to foot across the
chest is enough to cause electrocution.
Regulatory safeguards around electricity in Ontario’s manufacturing
workplaces appear in the Industrial Establishments Regulation (Regulation
851) made under the Occupational Health
and Safety Act. Sections 41-44 of this regulation pertain specifically
to electricity hazards, including lockout and tag out procedures and how
to protect workers from injury.
Why aren't these safeguards enough to prevent electrical incidents? The
problem, explains Steve Oakley, a consultant with IAPA's Synergration
Group, is the misconception around what constitutes an electrical hazard.
"One of the more common myths out there is that 'low voltage can't
hurt me.' " Oakley uses highways as an analogy. "Most people
believe that large highways are the most dangerous to drive but in reality
it's the secondary highways that carry the most risk."
As for controlling hazards, Oakley notes that companies tend to rely
on personal protective equipment as the default solution. However, this
is the least effective control measure. The most effective are (in order)
- elimination or substitution
- engineering controls
- work procedures and practices
- administrative controls, and
- personal protective equipment
How injuries happen
Electrical injuries can result from
- direct contact with electrical energy
- electrical arcs, which are a flow of electrons through a gas (including
air) to a victim whose body essentially supplies an alternative path
to the ground
- flash burns from heat created by the arc, and
- flame burns from the ignition of clothing and other combustible,
Another concern regarding electrical safety, says Oakley, is that "you
don't see as many incidents before you see cascading forms of loss. You
might not get two chances." If the improper procedures are carried
out, when an injury finally does occur it can be fatal.
To prevent electrical injuries or fatalities, Oakley recommends integrating
an electrical hazard control program into your health and safety management
system. Manufacturing companies have many employees who may be unknowingly
exposed to electrical energy and unaware of their vulnerability to electrical
injury. An integrated prevention program is the best safeguard to protect
all employees from the hidden dangers of electricity on the job.
this year a Woodstock, Ontario manufacturer of building products for commercial
farms was fined $55,000 for violations of the Occupational
Health and Safety Act. A director was also fined $10,000.
No injuries, just failures to meet legislated obligations. Among the
failures was non-compliance with a work order requiring certification
of at least one safety committee employer representative and one worker
- certification is on inspectors’ radar screens.
- the Ministry of Labour isn’t waiting for injuries before laying
charges under the act
IAPA regularly receives questions on certification. Below, Accident
Prevention e-News answers your most commonly asked questions.
workplaces must have certified members?
A: In the manufacturing sector,
every workplace with 20 or more workers must have a joint health and safety
committee, and if you have a committee then at least one management representative
and one worker representative must be certified.
A: Certification is a two-part
process involving training in the fundamentals of health and safety and
in workplace-specific hazards. Certification Part One provides an overall
knowledge of health and safety basics that apply to all workplaces. Certification
Part Two focuses on significant hazards typical of workplaces like yours.
It covers how to assess those hazards and ways to control and/or eliminate
The designated worker and management representatives must each complete
Part One and Part Two certification training.
long before a certificate [certification card] expires?
A: There is no training expiration
date. However, because safety committee membership changes regularly,
make sure you always have certified members.
refresher training required?
A: No, but again, you may need
to train new members regularly given the turnover in safety committee
will workplace-specific hazard training help me?
A: For every significant hazard
in your workplace, you’ll be able to
- describe the hazard and how it may cause injury or illness
- identify relevant legislation, standards and guidelines
- describe how to identify and assess the hazard
- describe ways of controlling it
- prepare an action plan to identify, assess and control the hazard,
based on an actual workplace situation
aside, what benefits do certified members offer my workplace?
“Certification is an investment in the reduction of future losses,
including injuries and all other types of losses,” explains IAPA
training specialist Clarence McCloskey.
“Workplaces are constantly changing,” says McCloskey, “and
it’s the responsibility of every employee to be on the lookout for
anything that presents a hazard or a risk. The four or five days of certification
are the best training a company could offer to get employees on the road
McCloskey says not just safety committee members are showing up in his
certification courses. “Some companies are sending their entire
committee for training; some are sending their entire management team.
They’re realizing that this is fundamental training that every manager
and every committee member should have.”
More Chocolate for Darmin
Darmin Garcia, a 21-year-old chocolate
factory worker, temporarily lost his taste for the treat after being trapped
for over two hours on August 18 in a vat of dark chocolate.
Garcia told reporters that "I was pushing the chocolate down into
the vat because it was stuck." As the chocolate came loose from the
hopper and began to slide, Garcia went with it. Although he was able to
right himself, Garcia remained chest deep in the warm chocolate. "It
was in my hair, in my ears, my mouth, everywhere."
Garcia was stuck in the vat for two hours as emergency response workers
tried to remove him. Garcia said he felt like he weighed “900
pounds.” The primary challenge for rescuers was his
pants, which were caught on a roller. Eventually, after workers
thinned the chocolate with cocoa butter and removed some
of it, Garcia was able to slip out of his pants and rescuers
pulled him up. Garcia was taken to hospital and later released.
Peters Strikes Action
Committee on Youth
Elyse Soininen and Jessica
McClinchey, both former high school dropouts, join a group of labour
market experts, specialists and others with experience or expertise in
youth issues on Ontario Labour Minister Steve Peters’ newly established
Action Group on Vulnerable Workers Under 25.
Sue Boychuk, the ministry’s manager, Young Worker Health and Safety,
says the ministry’s injury and fatality statistics show a need for
action: “Many of the teenagers being seriously injured or killed
were not registered high school students.”
The action group’s first meeting is scheduled for September 13,
and will focus on social and economic issues facing working youth. “We
want to find out who they are,” says Boychuk. “We want to
know if work is hard to find. Are these people working full time or part
time or multiple part-time jobs? Are they moving from one job to another?
Where do they go for advice on workplace issues? Or do they?
“Before we begin working on prevention, we want to spend a lot
of time discovering who these youth are, what they need, where they go
[for information], who would they even listen to, who their mentors are…
what value do they place on money? Is it everything, or is the job more
“So really,” says Boychuk, “the first step in this
process is ‘Who are these youth,’ ‘What makes them tick,’
and ‘What interests them and won’t interest them.’ ”
Specific goals for the group include:
- identifying gaps in communication, knowledge or skills that may contribute
to workplace injuries and deaths among post-secondary youth
- identifying best practices for, and recommending enhancements to,
a coordinated strategy that can make workplaces safer for new, young
and inexperienced workers, including increasing employers’ and
supervisors’ knowledge and skills
- recommending ways to provide appropriate health and safety social
marketing, awareness and education to workers under the age of 24 who
are outside of the education system
- recommending where, when and how messages aimed at this group would
be most effectively delivered, and
- recommending an implementation plan, including time lines and an
Elyse Soininen and Jessica McClinchey were recommended to the ministry
by their school boards, which maintain successful return-to-school programs.
The two young women had gone back to school and completed their secondary
education. Other action group members include
- Minister of Labour Steve Peters
- Brett McKenzie, director,
Membership Development/Marketing, International Brotherhood of Electrical
Workers, Construction Council of Ontario
- Paul Kells, founder and vice
chair, Safe Communities Foundation Canada, and executive director, Passport
to Safety, Safe Communities Foundation
- Dr. Cam Mustard, president
and senior scientist, Institute for Work and Health
- Matt Wood, executive director,
Ontario Association of Youth Employment Centres
- Brenda Pipitone, director,
Special Projects and Community Partnerships, George Brown College, and
- Mitzie Hunter, vice president,
Marketing, Goodwill Greater Toronto, Central and Eastern Ontario.
Boychuk expects the committee to submit recommendations to the minister
in spring 2007.
Changes at CSA
Pat Keindel, CSA’s president,
Standards, is stepping down and assuming a part-time role as vice-president,
Business Development. “Her vision has taken the Canadian Standards
Association from a standards development organization to a world-renowned
solutions provider,” says CSA president and CEO Rob Griffin. Keindel’s
move is attributed to “an effort to achieve a better life work balance.
In other CSA news, Tomislav Mehes
of Copper Cliff, Ontario and Norma McCormick
of Winnipeg, Manitoba have received the association’s 2006 award
of merit. Mehes was recognized for his work in developing and advancing
standards in respiratory protection and compressed breathing systems.
Mehes is superintendent, Emergency Preparedness and corporate industrial
hygienist at Inco Limited. McCormick, founder and principal of Corporate
Health Works, Inc., was recognized for her commitment to advancing OHS