Your workplace shouldn’t make you sick. Nor should it place your health and safety at risk. This common sense logic seems unassailable. Yet, UTE members couldn’t always count on legislative protections from an unhealthy or unsafe work environment.
Unbelievable as it may now seem workplace health and safety matters were determined by arbitrary employer policies until the mid-1980s. There were no mechanisms to ensure that policies were enforced. Only in 1986, after a major three-year PSAC campaign, were federal public service workers included under the Canada Labour Code’s health and safety provisions.
The PSAC continued to play a leadership role on the legislative review of the Code to further improve the rights of their members. In 2000, the Code was amended introducing major changes. It places greater onus on employers and workers to work together to ensure a healthy and safe work environment.
Jointly with the employer and other unions as members of the National Health and Safety Policy Committee, our duties are:
- To participate in the development of health and safety policies and programs;
- to consider and expeditiously dispose of matters concerning health and safety raised by members or referred to it by a workplace committee or a health and safety representative;
- to participate in the development and monitoring of a prevention program that also provides for the education of workers in health and safety matters;
- to monitor data on work accidents, injuries and health hazards; and
- to participate in the planning of the implementation and in the implementation of changes that might affect occupational health and safety.