Finding and hiring the right people

by Derek Clouthier

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. – You may think it’s a simple process, but it isn’t.

While it certainly depends on what particular position is being applied for, the days of walking into a business with a resume in hand and hearing the words, “When can you start,” seem to be coming to an end.

During the Southern Alberta Truck Expo in Lethbridge, Alta., Darcy Hansen, president of Healthy Worker, outlined some of the best hiring practices trucking companies need to be using when hiring new and managing current employees.

Hansen said the best way to start is to clearly define the position that needs to be filled by using a physical demand analysis that includes the bona fide occupational requirements and bona fide occupational qualifications, which, according to Alberta’s Human Rights Act, are what define a job.

Bona fide occupational requirements include vision, range of motion, ability to lift, repetitive tasks and any fears a potential employee may have, such as claustrophobia or a fear of heights.

“If the worker has any difficulty performing any of the bona fide occupational requirements for the position, then the employer has to accommodate the employer to the point of undo hardship,” Hansen said.

On the flip side, using his own profession as an occupational health nurse as an example, Hansen outlined the bona fide occupational qualifications necessary to be accepted into a position in the first place – he must be in good standing with the College Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta, have his audio metric technicians course, spirometer technicians course and the Canadian Nurses Association Specialty for being a certified occupational health nurse in Canada.

“Almost every job has its own qualifications,” Hansen said. “So for an employer, they define the job first, and once you define the job, that job needs to be set…all the job duties are defined in that job. If you increase the lifting requirements for that job, then you need to recreate a new job position name.”

When a worker is hired to do a job with specific bona fide occupational requirements, an employer cannot simply change those requirements with the expectation the person currently in the position will be required to perform the duties of the new job without changing the job title itself.

A key reason these rules have been put in place stems from a case in B.C., where Hansen said a female firefighter was given additional duties as part of her job, could not perform those duties and was subsequently fired, setting the blueprint for bona fide occupational requirements across Canada.

Once an applicant has passed all the components for hire, they can be given a conditional offer of hire, which Hansen said is required before an employer can ask any further questions about the worker.

It’s not until then that an employer can further assess the worker for their ability to perform the bona fide occupational requirements for the position.

Healthy Worker specializes in tailoring these assessments – the bona fide occupational requirements assessment – for employees, and includes a drug test, where a worker is screened to determine whether they are using any kind of drugs, if those drugs are prescription or otherwise and whether the worker can continue performing safety sensitive
work under the bona fide occupational requirements for that particular position.

In Alberta, employers must make an attempt to accommodate the worker if they are on prescription medication and cannot perform safety sensitive work.

But if the test reveals recreational drug use, the employer no longer has to make any accommodations for the worker.

One exception to this rule is if it is determined by a health professional that the worker has an addiction, which Hansen said is considered a medical condition in Alberta, and therefore, the employer must attempt to accommodate the worker by allowing them to perform duties they can complete in a safe manner.

“We want people to get better,” Hansen explained. “We push them toward Alberta Health Services for addiction services. I don’t want to see people who are impaired by things in the community…I want them to get treated and get better.”

The next step in the bona fide occupational requirements assessment is the legislative components, which includes several elements, such as baseline hearing, vision and exposure tests.

For truck driving, vision is vital.

“A lot of people who are getting into a job, they have an old pair of glasses and they’re not adequate for the demands of the position,” Hansen said. “For driving you should have a corrected vision of less than 20/30.”

Drivers must also be able to differentiate colors, as well as possess good peripheral vision and depth perception.

Other facets of Healthy Worker’s assessment include hand, arm and wrist range of motion, height, weight, blood pressure, respiratory tests, fit tests…the list is extensive.
“You’re looking to see that the worker doesn’t have aggravation of existing conditions in the assessment,” Hansen explained.

For more information on the assessment, or any other type of occupational health issue, visit

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