You need to be prepared even if you aren’t in Japan

It was Friday March 11 and I was sitting at a client’s workplace. The TV was on and tuned to CNN.  News feeds from Japan’s largest earthquake were the main topic and probably will be for for some weeks to come.

It made me realize just how fragile we are as human beings.  I just so happened to be working with my client who mentioned that May 1–7 is “Emergency Preparedness Week”.

Here is some helpful information I found.

Emergency Preparedness Week (EP Week) is an annual event that takes place each year during the first full week of May. This national event is coordinated by Public Safety Canada, in close collaboration with the provinces and territories and partners.

During Emergency Preparedness Week, activities are organized across Canada to raise awareness of the importance of having an emergency kit; making an emergency plan; and identifying risks in the region. These three simple steps can help Canadians prepare for all types of emergencies.

Every Province has specific guidelines to follow. For more information, visit


Emergencies can happen at anytime and occur anywhere, often without warning. An emergency can force you to evacuate your neighbourhood or confine you to your home or workplace. It can leave you without basic services such as water, gas, electricity, or a working telephone. Are you prepared?

Although Ontario has effective emergency management legislation and programs, individuals and families play a vital role in preparing for times of crisis when emergency services and other government resources may be strained. It is important that individuals and families prepare to take care of themselves for at least three days.

Individuals and families are best able to cope when they have taken the time to prepare before an emergency happens. Follow the links below for addition information.

Watch our Be Prepared Video
Be Prepared at Home
Be Prepared at Work
Be Prepared in the Car
People with Disabilities/Special Needs
Be Prepared for Specific Emergencies

Mark Wood, CRSP

Private investigators can help protect companies from fraudulent WSIB claims PART 1

Today many employers are willing to take a stand against workplace fraud but lack the resources to deal with these sensitive issues.  Issues most likely to plague the workplace are fraudulent Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB) claims, flagrant absenteeism, drug and alcohol abuse, theft and racial/sexual harassment.

The most costly issue for employers can be suspicious WSIB claims. Whether an employee is truly unable to return to work may be an issue. WSIB claims can seriously affect the premiums employers must pay.  Moreover, WSIB has placed a heavy obligation on both the employer and the employee to facilitate a return-to-work program.  Failure to comply can result in serious financial penalties.

Employers can become aware of suspicious claims in a number of ways.  Perhaps the most common occurs when an employee’s absence is much longer than anticipated.  This can be accompanied by an apparent reluctance on the part of an employee to co-operate with the employer.

A second common source of suspicion can be comments from third parties (e.g. co-workers) that the claimant has been seen engaging in activities inconsistent with the injury.

What can a company do when red flags surrounding a claim create suspicion?  The services offered by a private investigator can effectively reduce workplace fraud.  But beware, suspicion alone, albeit grounded, is not sufficient to engage the services of a private investigator.  The following guidelines should be strictly followed before surveillance services are requested:

  • Were other alternatives considered before surveillance was ordered?
  • Were there reasonable grounds for suspecting fraudulent conduct by the employee?
  • Was the employee’s disciplinary record taken into consideration?
  • Would the video surveillance contravene any terms of the collective agreement?
  • The surveillance must be carried out with as little intrusion as possible and must not infringe on the employee’s right to dignity.

Part 2 of this blog will cover the private investigator’s role in a WSIB investigation.

Please visit our website for more information about the services we provide.

Daylight savings can be dangerous

Every year on the second Sunday in March, the majority of Canadians and Americans turn their clocks ahead an hour for a much welcomed extra hour of daylight, and in the process they sacrifice precious minutes of sleep. So goes the start of Daylight Saving Time (DST), which continues until the first Sunday in November.

Based on analysis of a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics database that tracks how Americans use their time, employees on average get 40 minutes less sleep on the Sunday night of the switch to DST. That loss of sleep may not seem like much but a study by Michigan State University researchers has found that the Monday following the switch to DST can be a particularly dangerous one. These researchers analyzed information from the U.S. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health database of mining injuries from 1983-2006. Their research showed that there were 5.7% more workplace injuries and 67.6% more work days missed due to injuries on the first Monday following DST than on other days.

This research suggests that less sleep may increase both the incidence and severity of injuries. The increased danger isn’t just confined to the workplace. The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) reports a higher driving risk the first Monday after DST. According to statistics averaged from 2005-2009, on the Monday following the start of DST, car accidents increased 23%.

Perhaps not surprisingly, people have a much easier time adjusting to the switch back to standard time. The same rates of accident and injury do not occur on the Mondays in November when people gain an hour.

So, as the second Monday in March approaches, pay extra attention to employee schedules, sleep, and safety, because as the statistics show, the gains in daylight with DST may come at a human cost.

Tips to ease the effects of the switch to DST

Rest up: Go to bed earlier to get your usual amount of sleep so you can be well rested and alert.

Defer the dangerous: Schedule particularly hazardous work later in the week (where possible) after employees have had more time to adjust their sleep schedules.

Plan ahead: Give yourself extra time to drive to and from work, especially during the Monday commute, to avoid a potential accident.

Step up the safety: Take extra safety precautions and assign extra safety monitors on days following the switch to DST to help avoid potential workplace injuries before they occur.

More information

Read the study: Changing to Daylight Saving Time Cuts Into Sleep and Increases Workplace Injuries (PDF), American Psychological Association

Get smart driving tips for Daylight Saving Time, Insurance Corporation of British Columbia

Posted by Mark Wood

Due diligence for working alone

In a unique prosecution arising in Alberta, Garda Canada Security Corp. has pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to protect a female worker under the working alone provisions of the Alberta OHSA. Amongst other provisions, the Alberta OHSA requires that employers, at workplaces where workers will be performing work alone, take measures to reduce risks or hazards to workers. Working alone legislation exists in the OHS legislation of many provinces, in addition to workplace violence-related obligations to assess risks and take preventive measures.

Ontario does not currently have working alone-related provisions in the OHSA, although the general duty clause obligates employers to take every precaution reasonable for the protection of workers.

In the Garda Canada Security case, a female security guard asked to perform overnight security duties at a construction project was viciously sexually assaulted while working alone. The assault resulted in a criminal conviction against an individual who accessed the site. Garda was also prosecuted under OHS working alone provisions. On February 22, 2011, Garda entered a guilty plea under the Alberta OHSA. The corporation will be formally sentenced March 31, 2011, but has agreed to a proposed penalty of $90,000, which will include a fine and contribution the Alberta Construction Safety Association.

Whether or not specific working alone provisions exist, Ontario employers must be mindful that reasonable precautions for the protection of workers must be taken, and compliance orders or prosecution can occur for failing to meet established standards for reasonable precautions. OHS enforcers in all jurisdictions will be looking closely at whether employers are taking working alone-related precautions after this conviction.

Posted by Cheryl Edwards