A common misconception among construction employers is that the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (“AODA”) only consists of the Customer Service Standard and does not apply to construction employers.
In fact, some of the AODA standards will likely have a greater impact on construction employers than other businesses. The Public Spaces Standard contains accessibility requirements in addition to those found in the Barrier-Free Design section of the Ontario Building Code. The Public Spaces Standard requirements currently apply to public sector organizations, and will apply to private sector organizations with 50 or more employees in Ontario on January 1, 2017. As a result, public sector and large private sector construction clients will expect construction employers to be as expert on AODA design and building requirements as the Building Code.
We are entering a new era of AODA enforcement which makes it essential for construction employers to pay careful attention to their AODA obligations. AODA enforcement ramped up last fall with the first AODA audit blitz. Construction employers should take steps now to ensure they are compliant before being faced with an audit and non-compliance penalties.
a. The AODA Customer Service Standard Applies to All Ontario Employers
The first common misconception is that the Customer Service Standard only applies to businesses that provide goods and services to the public. The Customer Service Standard applies to all organizations with one or more employees in Ontario. This is the case whether the organization’s customers are members of the public or other businesses. This means that a sub-contractor whose client is a general contractor needs to be compliant with the AODA Customer Service Standard. This includes, for instance, the requirement to have an AODA Customer Service Standard policy and ensure that employees and independent contractors providing services on the company’s behalf receive AODA training.
b. The AODA Customer Service Standard is One of Five Accessibility Standards
The second common misconception is that the AODA only consists of the Customer Service Standard. That was the first standard, but there are now five Accessibility Standards under the AODA: the Customer Service Standard, the Information and Communication Standard, the Employment Standard, the Transportation Standard, and the Public Spaces Standard.
We recently addressed common AODA compliance pitfalls (click here to read more). Those pitfalls apply equally to construction employers – because the AODA applies to construction employers just as it does to any other employer in Ontario.
Construction employers must comply with the obligations under the AODA standards, as applicable. For instance, construction employers must comply with the requirements under the AODA Employment Standard. The Employment Standard requirements range from recruitment practices to performance management and redeployment. Depending on the size of the business, employers may be required to implement new accommodation and return to work policies as well.
We are holding a Step by Step AODA Compliance Workshop on April 27, 2016 to assist employers in becoming AODA compliant. At this hands on workshop participants will be provided with practical guidance on drafting AODA compliant policies.
At this interactive half day seminar you will learn:
- The scope and purposes of the legislation and enforcement regime
- Strategies and best practices to ensure ongoing compliance with the AODA and avoid unnecessary financial penalties
- Practical advice on drafting AODA compliant policies and procedures
Click here for more details or to register now.