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You Want a Headstart Over Your Competition?

The Race

Imagine you are at the starting gate of a race (any race - cars, horse, a foot race, riding giant's your imagination!). It's you and all of your competition. Not just race competition, but your business competition. Take a second and think of them all now. Who is beside you at the starting line?

Now, look to the finish line. You know what's there? The finish line is winning the dream bid. And only one of you will get it.

The starting pistol explodes and you and and your competition are off! You can see the finish line clearly and you're barrelling towards it, competition at your heels!

All of sudden hurdles pop up! Where the hell did they come from?!?!

First - YOUR PEOPLE - do you have the right workers with the right skill sets to ace the job? Sure you do! While clearing the hurdle you glance over your shoulder and see one of your completion stumble...

Next hurdle - do you have the EQUIPMENT needed for this job? Of course you do! This type of...

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Racism as a Workplace Hazard

Unless you live under a rock, you are well aware of the global movement towards racial equality that is happening right now. Change is not only happening in the streets of the US, but it's happening in governments around the world, in corporations, non-profits, churches, and schools, and in city councils right here in Canada.

Change is indeed happening, on a massive scale. Changes in policing, changes in attitudes, changes in marketing, changes in accountability. You know what else is changing? We're seeing workplace behaviours change, and we're going to see them change for the foreseeable future.

Racism as a workplace safety issue

Already, there have been movements towards calling out harassment and racial inequality in the workplace. We've seen high profile cases in the news at the local, provincial, federal and global levels. What I've noticed however, is that small businesses can sometimes fly under the radar.

All small businesses still have leaders...

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Math is Fun!

1.4 vs. 2

Dean once took a graduate class in "Decision Support Systems" taught by Dr. Mohamed Al-Hussein at the University of Alberta. He did a lot of work with Excel models in this class. The models were built to help make decisions (get it...decision support systems?). Dr. Al-Hussein made it very clear that the models did not make the decisions, they merely helped people make informed decisions.  

This week, just for fun*, Dean made a decision support system in the form of a graph. It shows how quickly COVID-19 and the flu can spread through a population. It's a simple exponential function like this (please don't be scared of the math, it's fun!): 

y=number of people infected 
x=number of transmissions or "touches" 
n=average infection rate 

The numbers are debatable, but some of the figures I've seen indicate one flu carrier can infect 1.4 people (yes, there's no such thing as 0.4 of a's a statistical average). One...

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Back to Work Part V: Stress

This blog post wasn't part of my original plan when we started mapping out this series, but a recent story from a friend prompted a change in strategy. As with our previous Back to Work posts, this is aimed at businesses that are re-opening in the midst of COVID-19.

To reiterate: the world is not normal, the economy is not normal, businesses are not operating normally. The third planet from the Sun is still in the midst of a global pandemic...but despite this, some businesses are re-opening and trying to safely operate in the weirdness. 

Businesses will likely have new procedures for cleaning, client relations, shipping & receiving, and scheduling. This is going to be new territory for a lot of businesses which means your 3:30 pm appointment might become a 4:00 pm appointment or even a 4:30 pm appointment. Businesses will adapt to the new reality, but there might be some bumps along the way.

Look After Your Employees

Unfortunately, some clients will not like the...

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Back to Work Part IV: The 3 Workers Rights

As I write this, some in our home province of Alberta, businesses that closed because of the pandemic have been opened for just over a week. There are similar stories across the country, with some ares still under heavy restrictions and some areas with most restrictions lifted.

So, as there's a lot of people going back to work it seems like a good time to talk about the three Basic Workers Rights and how they relate to work in the time of the great pandemic of 2020.

These rights are common across the country - all workers in Canada have the right to know about workplace hazards and have access to basic health and safety information on the work site, the right to participate in health and safety activities, and the right to refuse dangerous work.

The Right to Know

This right seems fairly reasonable, right? There's even a clichéd saying that goes with it: "Forewarned is forearmed". If you know the hazards in your workplace, you'll be better able to control those hazards...

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Back to Work Part III: Prevention

We’ve looked at communication, and hazard assessments so far. Now let’s look at preventing the spread of COVID-19.

A big part of prevention are hazard assessments. The Alberta guidance document even states:

“Conduct hazard assessments on all tasks performed in the business. Consider business closure or suspension of specific tasks where the risk of transmission of infection to staff, volunteers and patrons cannot be mitigated “

You know how to do your own hazard assessments (right? If not - head back to this post). Seriously, we can’t overestimate the importance of a good hazard assessment when it comes to COVID-19 related risks.

Prevention, in our thinking, is a component of your hazard assessments. Prevention could be deemed a class of hazard controls. The Alberta government was kind enough to highlight a few important prevention mechanisms. Here, we've tried to put my spin on their guidance document.

Screening: Ask the questions!

By now, we’ve...

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Safety or Profit? Which comes first?

A few years ago, I attended a meeting of safety professionals. It was a regular monthly luncheon of a professional group I belong to. The speaker started his talk by asking "What is the most important thing for our companies?" Being a room of safety people, the murmurs tended towards "safety" as the answer. The speaker boldly proclaimed "That's right, the answer is PROFIT!" to a mildly stunned audience. 

...but...but you've always been taught that safety is #1. Well, maybe we can call it a tie, maybe we can say you can't have one without the other. No one is in business to lose money, but everyone has obligations to meet. Cutting corners to save time, or using the wrong materials to save money is like gambling...and the house always wins, so sooner or later you're going to lose and it's going to cost you...a lot. So, you need safety as part of a profitable business. If you feel your safety program is preventing you from being profitable then chances are you're doing it...

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Back to Work Part II: What are the Hazards in Re-Opening?

A lot of businesses have had to close because of COVID-19. This sucks, I know, but as I write this, in mid-May 2020, several businesses will be re-opening very soon. Provincial governments are requiring businesses conduct hazard assessments prior to re-opening. In the world of occupational health and safety, this type assessment is often called a Job Hazard Analysis (JHA). A properly completed JHA is designed to protect your workers, the work environment, and the public from hazards associated with your work. The government of Alberta has released some sector specific guidance documents here, for additional reference. 

In this post, we want to explain the process for creating and implementing a JHA. If you follow along, you'll be able to conduct your own hazard assessment for your business and prepare for re-opening.

Note: we'll be writing this for an audience that does not come from a safety sensitive sector. If you have a background in something like construction, or...

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I do this stuff so you don't have to

I don’t know how many times I’ve had a client say to me: I’m so happy you are doing _____________ so that I don’t have to. The blank could be anything: attend a workshop put on by Alberta OHS, take a workshop on auditing, take a university course on due diligence, re-write a policy based on new legislation, or get on a conference call with an owner client to understand their contractor requirements.

I’ve also had clients say to me: do you really like doing this stuff?

Luckily, I love what I do. And I love that I can help you out so that you can get back to doing what you do best. The best part? What I do for one client always benefits all of my clients.

  • When I was first asked by a client to figure out what I-CAB was all about, it didn’t take long for another client to need to be on I-CAB as well and luckily I had that knowledge in my back pocket.
  • I’m happily sorting out the ins and outs of the new ACSA Audit Protocol for one client right...
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3 ways to stay busy in slow times

It should be obvious by now—we love showing off our great clients. And we love learning from them! This month, we’re sharing some more great tips on prospering in a down economy, brought to you by Halie Zasada of Mid-City Construction Management.

Mid-City is a civil contractor in its 36th year of business. They have three divisions: excavating, underground services, and paving. Halie is a paving project manager and estimator, and she talked with us recently about the busy season Mid-City is having right now, how they’ve earned that growth, and how Boreal has been helping sustain it.

Here are three ways Mid-City is prospering in a downturn:

1. Focusing on Long-Term Relationships

Halie Zasada: One of the biggest things for Mid-City is that we have a lot of long-term relationships with a lot of clients. We just started a paving division last year, and a lot of the work that we’ve gotten has been through those long-standing relationships. Now that we have an...

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