The intent of the Accessibility Standard for Employment, one of the three standards contained in the Integrated Accessibility Standards (IAS) Regulation, is to help Ontario businesses and organizations make accessibility a regular part of finding, hiring and supporting employees with disabilities. One of the requirements under this standard is that organizations must help employees stay safe in an emergency by providing them with individualized emergency response information when necessary. This requirement is contained in section 27 of the standard as follows:

  1. Every employer shall provide individualized workplace emergency response information to employees who have a disability, if the disability is such that the individualized information is necessary and the employer is aware of the need for accommodation due to the employee’s disability.
  2. If an employee who receives individualized workplace emergency response information requires assistance and with the employee’s consent, the employer shall provide the workplace emergency response information to the person designated by the employer to provide assistance to the employee
  3. Employers shall provide the information required under this section as soon as practicable after the employer becomes aware of the need for accommodation due to the employee’s disability.
  4. Every employer shall review the individualized work place emergency response information,
    1. when the employee moves to a different location in the organization;
    2. when the employee’s overall accommodation needs or plans are reviewed; and
    3. when the employer reviews its general emergency response policies.
  5. Every employer shall meet the requirements of this section by January 1, 2012.

Employers must provide individualized workplace emergency response information to employees who have a disability, if the disability requires individualized information and the employer is aware of the need for accommodation. For instance, you have an employee with a broken leg who has indicated to you that he/she requires assistance in an emergency situation, until such time as the leg is healed. You may also have employees with permanent disabilities who require permanent accommodations in an emergency response situation.

The standard does not dictate how employers must comply with this requirement. We would recommend that employers develop a template form to assist in the development of individualized workplace emergency response information and emergency procedures. Consider the following:

  • What are the employee’s communication requirements?
  • What are their physical strengths and weaknesses? Is one side of their body stronger than the other? Do they use assistive devices?
  • What is the employee’s preferred method of lift or carry for evacuation?
  • Are there one or two “buddies” (assistants) assigned to the individual?
  • Does the individual spend time in various locations in the building? How will he or she be located?
  • Is the building elevator capable of providing a safe exit during an evacuation or will the individual need to use the stairs?
  • Are evacuation devices available? Will they be required?

Incorporate the evacuation plans of employees who require assistance during an emergency situation into the overall evacuation procedures for your building or workplace. The identity of employees who require special assistance and their individualized workplace emergency response information plans must be kept confidential in accordance with the requirements of applicable privacy legislation.

Employers were required to comply with this provision in the IAS by January 1, 2012.