Preparations to make in a downturn economy

By Tracy Slywka, Injury Solutions Canada


Canada’s economy has slowed down in the last few years, and companies, now more than ever, are worried about staying afloat in these changing times. Has your company considered how it will navigate the future? Is your company ready for when the economy turns around? Will it have a competitive edge from planning?

When the economy improves, you best be ready to hit the ground running. If you want to take advantage of this time and prepare, there are several things your company should do. The following questions will help you get ready.

Do you have a safety management system and/or are you COR certified? If not, your safety association should be able to assist you. If you do not work with a safety association, there are many private companies that can help. Why? A safety management program allows your company to be competitive in the bidding process. With it, you can set a safe example.

Do you have a fully functioning return-to-work program? The WCB Act of 2013 requires that all employers in Saskatchewan have a return-to-work program in place. The program must be documented and formal, not an informal binder or loose “practice” for employees returning to work.

As part of the program, all stakeholders, such as your staff and management, should be knowledgeable of the process and their respective responsibilities. It is also best practice for staff to refresh their knowledge on your company’s program regularly. Your company can accomplish this by going over expectations during orientation, posting it and talking about it in toolbox meetings.

Documentation throughout the process is also crucial. If you do not feel qualified to undertake this responsibility, Injury Solutions Canada can assist. Managing any injury claims, no matter what the source, is vital to your employees and company’s well-being. We do not recommend leaving it to the insurer.

Do you have measures in place to resolve absenteeism issues and off-site injuries should they happen? A good return-to-work program can eliminate the Monday/Friday frequent flyers. It also works well with other types of injuries that may not have occurred at work and can take employees away from the workplace.

However, these types of injuries may still impact your bottom line through sick time and short or long-term disability programs. If you are unsure of what modified work duty tasks these employees can complete, canvass your staff. They will likely have great ideas for accommodation.

When the economy improves, you best be ready to hit the ground running.

Have you looked closely at all of your WCB cost statements? Look closely at the statements; if there are any costs you are unfamiliar with, inform yourself, and if there are any costs related to older claims, do your due diligence. Do you know who to ask for assistance? Unknown costs such as these can lead to you being eliminated from the potential to bid on large projects and increase your premium rates – be conscientious of them.

If you are a member of an association such as the Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association (SHCA) or a safety association such as the Heavy Construction Safety Association of Saskatchewan (HCSAS), are you familiar with their offerings? If not, get to know the benefits and become involved.

For example, the primary focus of SHCA, as stated on its website, is “advocacy and lobbying government on behalf of the organization and [its] members.” Access to networking with peers is also a benefit. Have you been to a SHCA event? Take advantage of the exposure and chance to connect.

When you are hiring new staff, spend time upfront properly screening them using a documented system or policy that is equal and fair to all. This process eliminates potential problems before they become your employee. Ensure new staff go through a clear onboarding process which includes informing them of your return-to-work policy as well as expectations on sickness and injury. If you do not have this process in place, or it is not documented, Injury Solutions Canada can help you develop one catered to your company’s needs.

The steps given above can put your company on a healthy and safe path that will pay dividends when you are in a bidding competition. Other benefits include: your WCB premiums decreasing, your ability to bid more competitively increasing and having a safe and productive workplace.