September 15, 2016
By Paul Brydges
LO President

Paul BrydgesNow that summer weather is here, it seems as though we are all finally hitting our stride for the season. We get busier every year, but it seems with the help of our team we are also able to take on a little more work without the stress of previous years. Oh, the joy of growth and expansion!

One of the biggest fears we all seem to overlook on a continuous basis is what happens if, and when, someone integral to our team gets injured?

Personally, I have dealt with this issue over the last three-and-a-half years due to what was thought at the time to be a minor car accident. The paperwork created for insurance and lawyers has been anything but minor. Between trying to figure out what information they are actually asking for and scheduling and attending both meetings and appointments, the time spent dealing with insurance far outweighs the time required to get better. What I thought was adequate coverage in the event I was off work turned out to be totally inadequate. Since I am self-employed, the compensation is almost impossible to collect. It seems as though my firm supposedly does not need me for it to run since money is still coming in, and therefore, I am not eligible to collect any money I paid towards my policy. Trying to understand the details of the policy itself and what it excludes is another skill all in itself.

In a nutshell, I have learned to question my limits and to question what I am actually eligible to collect as a self-employed individual. All members of Landscape Ontario should do the same. Please take some time to review your own coverage to ensure you and your family are protected when you may need it most.

The second issue I have witnessed with our labour force is an employee being injured; on or off the job. How does a company who puts years of training into an employee, keep or get back on schedule if that employee suddenly is not there? In some cases it means the owner of the company must now put the work boots back on. Even years out of the trenches does not deter most of us jumping back into the daily tasks previously handled by a foreman or even a crew worker. In some cases, it is the perfect way to show young, or new staff, that you know how to do what you ask them to do every day. It also helps to boost morale to see even the owner is willing to jump in to ensure the job is completed as promised to a client.

Losing an employee to injury is also a great opportunity for junior staff to step-up and help fill the void. Very often, young staff are looking for an opportunity to prove their skills and knowledge. They won’t do the job the exact same, or as quickly as the senior staff, but they will get it done. Remember, that senior staff person was a junior when they started out as well. We often forget that we all had to learn somewhere — we just need someone willing to give us the opportunity.

In the heat of the season it is easy to forget how fragile we are. Please take the time to protect yourselves and your team as well as possible. Machines are nuts and bolts, but our team is what really makes all of our companies what we are most proud of.
Paul Brydges may be reached at