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Changes to Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety Regulations

Posted by Stacey Duggan

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Oct 23, 2013 9:00:00 AM

October 1 Changes to Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety RegulationsOne of the biggest challenges of running a business is navigating an ever-changing sea of statutory requirements. Regulations can, and often do, change with little or no notice, forcing businesses to scramble to keep up. This year is no different. Amendments to the Alberta Health and Safety Compliance rules went into effect on October 1st, 2013. As explained in this article on Lexology.com, these amendments can have a significant impact on how a business monitors, manages, and reports on workplace safety issues.

Information Access

Current copies of the Occupational Health and Safety act regulations and codes must be made readily accessible to workers. These copies can be digital downloads or hard copies. Either way, they must be easily accessible to any employee who wants to reference them. The amendments are not clear about whether the copies must be physically present at the work site, but it’s probably better to error on the side of caution and have copies on hand.

Worksite Conditions

Prior to the new regulations taking effect, workers were only required to report any equipment problems that could lead to health and safety issues. This has been expanded and now requires workers to make a report any time they “believe an unsafe or harmful work site condition or act exists.” As an employer, any report will then require you to “review the situation and take any necessary corrective action in a timely manner.”

What Constitutes a “Hazardous Work Site”

The previous definition of a hazardous work site as a “restricted area and a blasting area” has been widely expanded. The new definition, “a blasting area and an area of a work site where there is a reasonable chance that the airborne concentration of asbestos, silica, coal dust or lead exceeds or may exceed the occupational exposure limit for one or more of the substances under an adopted code” will require changes to the way worksites are monitored and managed. Since areas far outside of the previous hazardous work site may exceed exposure limits, it could force businesses to classify much larger areas as hazardous.

Notifiable Diseases

Following the implementation of these amendments, all asbestos-induced cancers are now considered notifiable diseases. In a semantic change, “lead poisoning” has now been changed to “elevated blood lead level,” though it is still a notifiable disease if the level exceeds “0.5 micromoles per litre.”

Director’s Permitting Authority

One of the goals of the amendments is to better align the suspension and cancellation rules as they pertain to the mining certification program and non-mining blasters’ permits. To accomplish this goal, the Director of Inspection has been given greater authority to issue suspensions and cancellations, reassess competencies, require additional training, or all of the above. As of October 1st, the Director has the power to suspend or cancel mining certificates or blaster’s permits “if there is reason to believe that its holder has done or failed to do anything that, in the Director’s opinion, warrants the cancellation or suspension.” In addition, the director can reassess the competency of the permit or certificate holder “for any reason.”

Measuring the Impact

As these amendments to the Alberta Health and Safety Compliance regulations have just gone into effect, it’s difficult to know how they’ll be applied, and what lasting effect they’ll have on employers. Keeping up with changes to the Alberta Health and Safety Compliance regulations, and other statutes, can be time consuming and frustrating. The penalties, should you make a mistake, are dire. Working with a reputable outsourced back office service provider makes it easier to maintain compliance with regulations that are constantly in a state of flux.

7 Signs It's Time to Outsource Payroll

Topics: Payroll Service Provider, Canadian Payroll, Government Compliance, Canadian Payroll Service, Temporary Staff Agency, Compliance, Alberta, Health and Saftety, Health and Safety Regulations, Alberta Health and Safety Compliance

What is Time Theft, and How to Avoid It

Posted by Stacey Duggan

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Oct 7, 2013 10:54:00 AM

What is Time Theft and How to Avoid ItIn tough financial times, businesses try to streamline their operations to run as inexpensively as possible. They may reduce business hours, lease less property, or make changes to products and services. One lesser known strategy for reducing expenses is to tackle the problem of time theft.

What is time theft?

Time theft is a worker getting paid for work they did not actually do, and it costs Canadian businesses as much as $5 billion per year. As you can imagine, time theft has a big impact on the financial success of businesses, and it could be hurting yours.

Let's take a look at some of the ways time theft could be eroding your company’s profits.

1. A faulty "punch card" system.

Employers have different ways of clocking their employees' hours, and sometimes employees figure out how to manipulate the system so it looks like they're working more than they actually are. This happens when employees "punch in" for each other or find a way to clock in remotely. If you feel that there are inefficiencies or "holes" in the way you track employee hours, take a close look at your system. Your bottom line could be severely affected by this form of time theft.

2. Personal time on the phone.

Everyone has to make personal phone calls from time to time, and sometimes it's necessary to handle personal matters during business hours. Every employer understands this. But when employees make a habit of spending time on personal phone calls while they're supposed to be working, they are committing time theft. In essence, you are paying them to handle their personal lives instead of paying them to complete the work they agreed to. Review your company's policies about personal phone time, and inform employees that they must abide by these policies.

3. Tardiness, long breaks, and leaving early.

This form of time theft is not as common for hourly employees, but it's not uncommon with salaried workers. When employees stretch a 30-minute break to 45 minutes, and when they come in late or leave early, they are stealing from your company. If this is a chronic problem in your company, re-evaluate your procedures for managing your employees' time on the job. Does a supervisor need to pay more attention to break times? Do you need to schedule early morning meetings to hold employees accountable for arriving on time?

4. Non-work computer usage.

The Internet is a minefield of distractions, and it's all too easy for employees to let their attention stray away from their work while they're on the computer. There are many things you can do to help your employees avoid this time theft temptation. Turn computer screens toward a public area so anyone walking by can see what's on the screen. Instruct your system administrator to block social media sites and YouTube. During your training and instructional meetings, remind employees that their work computers are for just that: work. And help them to develop good work habits and standards for themselves that will help them to be more productive employees.

By paying attention to time theft and how it affects your company's productivity, you can save money and improve your employees' work. For more information about time theft, or to discuss other human resource and payroll issues, contact us at The Payroll Edge. Our payroll experts can help you to find solutions to your problems.

What Are You Leaving to Chance by Handling Payroll on Your Own

Topics: Payroll Service Provider, Canadian Payroll, Canadian Payroll Service, hire payroll service, Best Payroll Calculator, human resources, Employee Policies, Temporary Staff Agency, Temporary Workers, Time Theft, Human Resources Issues

Improperly Trained Temp Staff Could Cost You Big Time

Posted by Ray Gonder

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Aug 15, 2013 12:30:00 PM

Who is Responsible for Training Temporary StaffWhen businesses encounter busy seasons or need temporary help while employees are out for illnesses or maternity leave, they often hire workers from temp agencies. This can be a very effective way to handle a fluctuating work force. The permanent employees don't have to work overtime, and the manager doesn't have to go through the arduous process of hiring a new employee when the position may not last long.

But who is responsible for ensuring temporary workers are properly trained for the jobs they are being hired to do, and that they have been properly briefed on all applicable Occupational Health and Safety Act requirements? To believe it is the sole responsibility of the temp agency can be a big, and expensive, mistake, as a recent case brings to light.

The case in point concerns a waste management firm that hired a temp worker through a temporary staffing agency to perform garbage collection services. While performing his work, the temp exited the garbage collection truck prematurely and the truck ran over his foot, causing injury. While the waste management firm had safety policies and procedures in place, the Ministry of Labour convicted the firm for failing to train the temporary worker on those procedures of theirs. The conviction was followed by a $150,000 fine and a 25-per-cent victim surcharge, sending a warning to employers about the importance of training temps.

Who is Responsible for Training Temporary Staff?

Under Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act, employers are required to protect workers in the workplace. This includes not only an employer's own workers but also temporary, contract, or other on-site workers. Temporary personnel agencies often advertise that they'll train workers ahead of time so they can show up at your business ready to work. This is especially appealing to employers who are very busy and don't have time to train and re-train temps each time a new person arrives. But the message is clear - even if temps are offered training through their temp agencies, companies are still responsible to ensure that they're properly trained once they arrive on site for their work shifts.

What's the Solution?

Partnering with a temp agency that is committed to health and safety and understands the intricacies of government compliance will help to mitigate your companies risk when engaging in this type of workforce. Temp Agencies who partner with The Staffing Edge have this type of expert support giving their clients peace of mind that proper processes and procedures are in place.

But as the worksite you need to ensure your own due diligence as well.

If you don't have the time or legal expertise to put together comprehensive training programs for your business, you can outsource employee training and development to a human resources management company like The Payroll Edge. By partnering with an outsourced human resources management company, you can soon have a training program that covers health and safety fundamentals, emergency preparedness, workplace violence and harassment, provisions for AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act), workplace inspections, and hazard identification. In addition, your business can have customized OHSP manuals and policies, which keep your business up-to-date with all the most recent legislative changes and training requirements. Comprehensive on-going training for both your permanent and temporary staff not only elevates the work environment, it can protect your business from fines and legal action.7 Signs It's Time to Outsource Payroll

Topics: workforce compliance, Outsourced HR Management, Temporary Staff Agency, Temporary Workers, Employee Training and Development, Training Temporary Staff, Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act

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