Archive for December, 2010

Again, Winter driving and Employee Safety

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

I’m going to say it – I HATE winter driving. So I avoid it whenever possible. Not everyone has that luxury, and work still needs to get done. However, where is the balance between getting to work and being able to arrive safely? How should employers handle employee absenteeism during bad driving advisories?

What should they be thinking about, and communicating to their employees?

I live in the snow belt of ski country. Therefore, I understand when you walk outside to begin your drive to work and find that a foot of snow has fallen overnight. As a consultant, I get the luxury of balancing my workload with winter driving. But what about the poor worker who has not choice but to venture into the sometime gruesome driving conditions?

Depending on where they are, where they are going, and under certain conditions, a vehicle accident MAY in fact become a WSIB claim. If the worker is not driving to their normal work location, but instead is driving to a client location, training seminar, or meeting, an accident can be deemed work-related.

So how should employers handle situations when they know there are bad driving conditions and they have staff who are off-site for various reasons? Yes, the company has paid for the seminar, but in the long run, would it not be prudent to tell the worker to skip it? How much more costly would a WSIB claim be to the company should that worker be injured in an accident?

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Winter Driving and Employee Safety

Monday, December 6th, 2010

You know you live in Canada when you begin to think about winter driving in mid-October. Snow tires replace summer tires, boots replace sandals, and winter driving conditions replace summer time activites in the minds of workers.

We all know some employees who will drive through a blizzard to get to work. My husband is one of those die hard drivers. Others, like me, set out on the roads with a pit in my stomach, wondering what lies beneath the snow and ice, and how much extra time I will need to make it there safely.

Employers need to consider how they handle employee absenteeism on days of bad weather. And given that areas across Ontario seem to be hit differently, managers need to consider the local weather conditions WHERE THEIR EMPLOYEES LIVE rather than where they work. There have been many instances where companies have disciplined workers (or not paid them) because it was sunny in Toronto, but highways were closed along the commute of their workers.

How does this affect employee morale, and what is the message managers send workers during bad weather. If companies do not repsect and care for the safety of their workforce in all kinds of weather, can they realistically expect employees to “go the extra mile” when needed?

Good and responsible companies have contingency plans for bad weather. Perhaps workers are allowed to make up lost time by giving an extra hour a day the rest of the week. Or, perhaps they can work from home. Does your company have a policy and best practice for when the weather turns against us?

What message does it send? That you care about the comfort and safetyof your workforce, and trust that they will not take advantage of that understanding? Or, does it tell employees that they are expected at work not matter what?

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