world health day

World Health Day – October 10, 2018

World Health Day
World Health Day

World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health.

The Day provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.

Every week in Canada, 500,000 people miss work due to a mental health problem or illness. However, there are initiatives afoot to tackle this serious concern. Canada is quickly gaining a reputation as a global leader when it comes to addressing workplace mental health.  The fact is, addressing mental health at work should be as commonplace as prioritizing physical health and safety on the job.

That’s why employers around the globe are turning to the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace.  An international first, championed by the MHCC, the Standard is a voluntary set of guidelines, tools and resources that is reshaping how employers approach safeguarding the psychological health of their employees.  In an international review of workplace mental health guidelines published in the Preventive Medicine journal, the Standard scored highest for quality and comprehensiveness, ahead of 20 other guidelines reviewed.  Further, the Evolution of Workplace Mental Health in Canada research report found that more than 80 per cent of key informants identified the Standard as the most influential initiative in advancing workplace mental health over the last ten years.

While the onus is on employers to create psychologically healthy workplaces, every employee should be encouraged to learn more about mental health and wellness, from engaging in prevention, to understanding the signs and symptoms of a mental health problem. The MHCC, in collaboration with Ottawa Public Health, has created videos based on the 13 factors that affect the psychological health and safety of workers.  We encourage every employee to watch them and become more informed.

Given that two-thirds of adults in Canada spend 60 per cent of their waking hours at work, the workplace is an ideal venue to advance this crucial conversation.”

ARS – Unique Capacity to Handle Large-Loss Projects

Joe Gagliano’s article printed from the July 2018 edition of Insurance People Magazine

ARS created a digitized plan to scan more than eight million pieces of paper, as part of a large loss project in 2017, and then deliver the scanned information back to the clients on strict and accelerated timelines.

Joe Gagliano
President of Access Restoration Services

In May 2017, a series of explosions and a fire in downtown Toronto led to the evacuation of an office complex that housed a couple of financial institutions.  It could have been much worse than it turned out to be. As luck would have it, no one was injured because the blasts and fire occurred in late afternoon, just after employees had begun heading home for the day.

One of the companies called in to handle the situation was Access Restoration Services (ARS), a Toronto- based firm in business for 60 years that specializes in large-loss projects.  “A transformer exploded and caused heavy thick acrid smoke to spread throughout the building,” says Joe Gagliano, ARS president.   In response, we very quickly mobilized about 400 of our people to clear the building and move out all the contents.  We had 325,000 square feet of office space to evacuate.  We had to pack up all the employees’ workstations and all the equipment had to be relocated.

For most businesses, emergency plans are usually based on shutdowns of 24 to 96 hours – no one ever plans that they will be out for a year. In this case, no one had planned for a situation where they’d be out for an extended time, Gagliano says.  Around 1,300 people had to be relocated from the 13-story building.  We were able to develop a large-scale plan of moving them out to a temporary 350,00 square foot building that we own in Toronto, Gagliano says.  “We created offices, large-scale cleaning room and storage rooms.   I don’t know of anybody else in the country that has this type of capability.”

As with all major losses to a company, Gagliano says ARS had to inventory highly sensitive information and document all the files that came out of the affected building.

“We then had to go through a very particular and onerous plan of cleaning items that simply could not be destroyed. We had teams of people working 24/7 on that. We also created a digitized plan where we had large-scale scanners to scan more than eight million pieces of paper. We created special files that went to specific departments of the financial institution, following very strict guidelines mandated by the client.   Because the paperwork was contaminated, our crews had to wear masks and Tyvek suits just as forensics teams do to handle the paper.”

The scanned information was turned around and delivered to the client not only on strict timelines but also accelerated ones.  Gagliano says the project represented one of the larger scale losses in Toronto last year, and the success of the claim could not have happened without the client’s support and knowledge.

“Our client knew exactly what they wanted and, together, we created a formula to manage the claim by establishing a leadership team that communicated their requirements to streamline the process of bringing the claim to a successful conclusion,” Gagliano stresses the insurance company, AIG Canada, and the independent adjusting firm, Crawford Adjusters, also went out of their way to facilitate the requirements

of ARS and the client with effective communication, empathy for the client and cost controls. “Collectively, we all made an excellent team in the handling of this very complicated and multi-faceted claim.  He says the explosions and fire represented two large-scale losses that ARS handled in the last two years.

The company also worked on the wildfire at Fort McMur- ray, Alta., in May 2016.  Almost 90,000 people were forced to evacuate the community, making it the largest wildfire evacuation in Alberta history. Damage ran into the billions of dollars as 2,400 homes and buildings were destroyed, the costliest disaster in Canadian history.

Access Restoration Services is a family- owned business. It provides restoration services for water, fire and storm damage.  In addition to its head office in Toronto, it has five other locations throughout Ontario as well as offices in Calgary, Edmonton and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Download PDF here.


Office with laptop on desk

Business Interruption is a Huge Challenge Many Businesses Still Overlook

On April 27th, Nathan Normoyle was interviewed by Bethan Moorcraft  for Insurance Business Magazine

Here is her article:

The first things that spring to mind when commercial organisations think flood are: damage and destruction. They don’t necessarily think about the possible flow of ongoing disruption, displaced staff and supply chain woes.

When flood strikes, business interruption losses can quite literally come raining down. Getting back up and running is hard because of the mass inundation of water, which is why the expertise of restoration companies like Access Restoration Services (ARS) are so vital.  

“The number one challenge for commercial clients after a loss event like a flood is normally business interruption, which unfortunately is a topic that’s overlooked by many,” said Nathan Normoyle, vice president of National Operations at ARS Canada.

“Large commercial organizations might have 500-1,000 employees in one location,” he added. “If the whole workforce or a majority of staff are misplaced because of a flood event, or unable to work under their normal conditions, it creates a huge logistical challenge for business continuity. Business interruption losses can cost the company and the insurer multiples of what the actual physical damage to the property might cost.”

In January, business interruption was flagged up as by far the most significant concern among risk managers in Canada, according to the Allianz Risk Barometer 2018. Experts partly attribute this to the fact that post-loss restoration operations (from fire, flood, windstorm etc.) are becoming more and more challenging. 

Insurers, claims adjusters and post-loss restorers are coming up against new things like highly technical machines, complex supply chains, and even environmentally-friendly building products that can be difficult to repair after a loss.  That’s where the management skills and technical expertise of restoration companies really take centre stage.

“At ARS, we manage the business interruption process for our clients and customers,” Normoyle told Insurance Business. “When we visit an impacted property, we assess three key things: the extent of the damage, whether damage can be contained and commercial operations can continue, and the most rational step to avoid business interruption and minimize cost to both the business and the insurance company.  

“We will do everything in our power to keep a company operating. That might include shutting off a damaged area and moving operations to another section. If a site is completely demolished or critically damaged making it impossible and unsafe to maintain business operations, we will suggest alternatives and even construct temporary facilities on or off-site to get commercial organizations back up and running as quickly as possible.”


Joe Gagliano

Changing the Demographics of the Construction Sector, One Initiative at a Time

In her May 15th article in the Insurance  Business Magazine,  Alicja Grzadkowska interviewed our CEO, Joe Gagliano regarding how ARS is proactive in changing the demographics of this industry sector.

Here is Alicja’s article:

Construction has, for many years, been a male-dominated sector – but one company is working hard to change that.

Access Restoration Services (ARS), a Canadian build and restoration company specializing in emergency response for damage stemming from natural disasters, has announced its sponsorship of the Women in Insurance event taking place today in Toronto. However, its executives are also doing a lot in-house to encourage the advancement of women in the insurance space.

“We have a lot of women that work within our office and we’re trying to show that we’re promoting the Women in Insurance event,” said Joseph Gagliano, president of ARS. “By promoting that, we’re also showing our own employees that we believe in what we preach throughout the office – that when women succeed, we all succeed. That’s our motto here.”

Other initiatives the restoration company has implemented under its roof include taking tangible steps to create a safe working environment for women through programs that teach all employees what that kind of environment looks like. Supporting female employees as they ascend the career ladder is another effort that ARS has made, by building a talent pool to move women into executive positions. Skills development courses are also offered to all employees to ensure they’re continuing to build on an education that will help them move forward.

And that’s not all the company is doing in this field. While there’s many women working in insurance, a significant number occupy administrative positions. ARS has a specific way to address that issue.

“In the construction business, women are generally designated within the office and not in the field,” explained Gagliano. “We mandate a program where we actually ask the PCs and our field people to bring out their assistants so they can actually see the environments, see what’s in the fieldwork.”

If the assistants like the work, there’s a program that helps them transition to the PC group, where there’s more money to be made and economic agency to be gained.

Restoration is a worthwhile sector for anyone with an interest in insurance to consider. ARS itself has grown exponentially, Gagliano tells Insurance Business, with a staff of 200 that keeps on adding new employees. Its geographic reach is also expanding – a few years ago, ARS ventured outside of Ontario to provide its services after the Fort McMurray wildfires.

“Since then, we haven’t left. We’re now in Alberta and we’re still in the city of Fort McMurray,” said Gagliano. “And then with all the natural disasters, we were actually called by the insurers to go down to Florida as well, and into Texas.” In fact, ARS has travelled as far south as Aruba to help clients rebuild after the hurricanes.

As natural disasters become more intense and frequent, the demand for restoration work is only going to go up. After the recent ice storm that hit Ontario, the company’s professionals were on the ground, unplugging drains that were clogged by ice and then hit with intense rain, which caused interior water damage to a lot of commercial buildings. Putting in drying equipment so mould wouldn’t form and repairing that water damage was also on ARS’s to-do list.

The prognosis for future weather catastrophes isn’t optimistic, based on the intensity of those seen just in the past year. More people are affected now, too, with the recent wind storm impacting a third of Ontario, which is rare because of the province’s sheer size.

“The weather event itself is much stronger than we’ve ever seen in the past,” said Gagliano. “We had ice storms – never as heavy and dense as the one we just had – and then the rains we’re getting are heavier and there’s more wind with them.”



Proud Sponsors of Women in Insurance Event on May 15th, 2018

ARS Workday

Setting the Pace in the First 90 minutes

Say “Hi” Your Co-workers and Staff

Managing a team or a team member?  Give yourself a few minutes each morning to chat your team.  This goes a long way to create a positive workflow environment. Get everyone smiling and connecting briefly. Morning hellos also give you an opportunity to discuss what others are working on for the day. Sharing your goals for the day.  This will also encourage others to achieve theirs. Don’t spend too much time at the water cooler, but a quick walk around the office to say hello to the team can set the tone and pace for the rest of the day.

Look After Your To-Do List

Get into the routine of noting the most critical tasks in your job and manage that list daily.  So before you tackle today’s schedule, make sure to complete the previous day’s schedule.  Situations will arise throughout the day that sometimes takes more time to finish. Don’t give up!  If you don’t get it all done, you can use this to ask for more time or assistance if necessary. Knowing when you need help is just as important as completing your tasks. Managing a proper list every morning can help you stay on top of everything and keep you from falling behind.

Knowing When You Work Best

Your peak performance hours of the day may vary as everyone is different, but knowing when you do your best work is vital. Make the client phone calls during your peak morning hours, when you know your energy level is higher. If you’re responsible for one priority task each day, schedule yourself time to complete that task first thing during your peak.
We all know how the day tends to go if you oversleep or get to work late. You feel rushed and sometimes flustered. Maybe you forgot your coffee or skipped breakfast. These types of mornings tend to affect the rest of your day. Knowing that you have the control to set up your morning routine for a more productive day is critical. Establishing a morning routine, with specific tasks for managing your first 90 minutes, can significantly impact your effectiveness as well as inspire the productivity of those around you.