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New Emergency Preparedness Requirements for Employers of Persons With a Disability

January 1, 2012
by Israel Foulon LLP

Effective January 1, 2012, the Accessibility for Ontarions with Disabilities Act (“AODA”) requires all employers to identify employees who may need individualized emergency response information due to a disability that requires accommodation. Once such employees have been identified, the employer must:
provide individualized emergency response information that takes into account the employees’ limitations;

obtain the consent of employees who may require assistance to respond to an emergency due to disability, so that such information may be shared with the employee(s) designated to provide assistance [the information shared should be limited to details of the individualized emergency response plan or the specific limitations (details of the disability should not be shared) ];

designate a person(s) to provide assistance in the event of an emergency; and

review the emergency response information when:

the employee with a disability changes work locations;
employee(s) designated to provide assistance change work locations;
the employee’s accommodation needs or plans are reviewed; and
the organization’s emergency response policies are reviewed.

When an organization prepares emergency procedures or public safety information and makes the information available to the public, the organization must provide the information in an accessible format or provide appropriate communication supports (i.e. reading the document), as soon as practicable, upon request.
All employers are responsible for complying with the above-noted steps for disabilities that are either temporary or permanent.
Example: Sally has a mental health disability and gets anxious in crowds. There is a risk that evacuating through crowded narrow corridors may trigger a panic attack and put Sally and other employees at risk. The employer walks Sally through the evacuation route to identify places where she could safely step out of the crowd if she feels anxious.
Compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)
As you may already be aware, all businesses in Ontario employing at least one employee and providing goods or services directly to the public, or to another business, must offer accessible customer service in accordance with the AODA standards. If your business has not taken steps to comply and requires assistance or you are uncertain as to whether your business is required to comply, Israel Foulon LLP would be pleased to provide clarification. Businesses that employ 20 or more employees must submit a Customer Service Accessibility Report by December 31, 2012. The steps involved in reporting are as follows:
1. Visit Service Ontario’s One-Source for Business site at: https://www.appmybizaccount.gov.on.ca/wps/portal/mba_pub/!ut/p/c4/04_SB8K8xLLM9MSSzPy8xBz9CP3IgsT01JzMvGyr_OIkvYL8opLEHL2C0qSczGS9jPzcVP2CbEdFANyVxZk!/
2. Click “My Account”
3. New users will need to create an account:
a. Click “Sign-up”.
b. Create an ID, password and recovery questions.
c. You will need to agree with the Terms and Conditions of Use after they are read.
d. Complete the One-Source for business profile and Click “Create My Account”.
4. Click Accessibility Compliance Reporting (“ACR”) and follow the prompts.
The following are questions you will be required to respond to on the 2012 ACR:
1. Does your organization have policies, practices and procedures on providing goods or services to people with disabilities?

2. Has your organization established and documented a process to receive and respond to feedback on how its goods or services are provided to people with disabilities, including actions that your organization will take when a complaint is received?

3. Does your organization make information about its feedback process readily available to the public?

4. Does your organization ensure that the following people receive training about providing your goods or services to people with disabilities: every person who deals with the public or other third parties on behalf of your organization, and every person who participates in developing your policies, practices and procedures on providing goods or services?

5. Does your organization have a written training policy summarizing the contents of the training and keep records of the dates that training was provided and how many people were trained?

6. Does your organization post a notice at a conspicuous place on your premises, on your website, or by another reasonable method, that the documents required by the Customer Service Standard are available upon request, and do you provide those documents in a format that takes a person’s disability into account?

Legal Disclaimer

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice, which in all circumstances must be tailored to the specific facts of any problem. You should obtain a proper legal consultation in order to determine how this article applies to your specific situation. Please feel free to contact Israel Foulon LLP to learn more at 416-640-1550.