Health and Safety Committee

Minutes of the National Health and Safety Policy Committee Meeting

March 28, 2013

DATE:  March 28, 2013  TIME: 1:30p.m. – 3:30p.m.

LOCATION:  8th Floor Boardroom, 395 Terminal Avenue, room 8070

ATTENDEES:

Management

Union

Members

Secretary

Observer(s)

Diane Lorenzato
(Employer Co-Chair)
Mark Perlman
Helen Brown
Claude Tremblay
Josée Tremblay

Heather Di Penta

Susan Fagan 

Doug Mason
(Employee Co-Chair)
Harry Walker (PIPSC)
Doug Gaetz (UTE)
Debbie Ferguson (UTE)
Marc Brière (UTE)

Simon Ferrand (PIPSC)

OPENING REMARKS

Ms. Lorenzato welcomed the members to the first National Health and Safety Policy Committee (NHSPC) meeting of 2013. The Employer Co-Chair indicated that she was looking forward to progressing on the issues before the Committee, and working together throughout the year to address the health and safety issues and concerns of all employees.

Mr. Mason took the opportunity to welcome Mr. Simon Ferrand who will support the Employee Representatives with NHSPC business. At this time, Mr. Mason indicated that the NHSPC agenda should be co-developed with issues brought forward by both parties.  Ms. Lorenzato agreed and proposed that a Forward Agenda should be prepared for the upcoming year so that the NHSPC can strategically plan and prioritize discussions, and address Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) issues more efficiently.  The NHSPC members agreed that a Forward Agenda would contribute positively and proactively to the Committee’s work and ensure productive exchanges.

1. CRA OHS Program

The NHSPC was advised that the OHS Group had been working with the Public Affairs Branch to develop a communication plan for a number of OHS products that will be formally launched in April 2013. 

The updated OHS Policy was approved by the Board of Management on March 27, 2013. The policy will be given a heightened profile, as it will be introduced in a national communiqué as the cornerstone of the OHS Program that will be followed with other innovative initiatives.  Throughout the month of April, there will be a number of news items that will introduce the various OHS initiatives, including the new OHS Training for Managers e-learning product and the Agency’s Ergonomic Strategy pilot.

As a bit of background, the CRA’s Ergonomic Strategy was presented to the Human Resources Committee on January 28, 2013, and received approval for a national pilot, which would be re-examined at the end of one year. To execute the strategy, the CRA will undertake four broad initiatives that will assist the CRA in meeting its targets.  It will implement a tiered approach that will:

      • Expand and enhance employee self-adjustment options with the creation of an ‘Ergonomics’ webpage that will offer important information as well as the Employee Self-Adjustment Checklist;
      • Engage managers to support and promote opportunities for implementing the ergonomic process;
      • Expand and enhance the use of trained Ergonomic Coaches within the CRA with a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities to ensure only professional Ergonomists complete adjustments for employees with pre-existing conditions; and
      • Develop a process to ensure that complex ergonomic assessments are requested through the Agency’s Health Services Provider.

The employee awareness component of this strategy has been launched with the distribution of ergonomic information to employees including a self-adjustment checklist.  These communication measures also include an ‘Ergonomics Awareness’ article in the Work Place Health and Safety Committee Newsletter, and an update of the Ergonomic Web page that is found on the OHS InfoZone website.  As well, the OHS Group is working with the Training and Learning Directorate to develop an employee training/awareness product for conducting workstation self-adjustments.  Additional information will be communicated to employees as to when to use, and when not to use Ergonomic Coaches.

The on-line Hazardous Occurrence Investigation Report Form (T4009) will be announced with its implementation scheduled to begin on May 1, 2013.  The OHS Group are developing Questions and Answers (Q&As) to help offices with the use of the online form, as well as a presentation deck for managers or Work Place Health and Safety Committees, that wish to review the new form with employees.

The Employee Co-Chair expressed concern that the OHS Policy did not include any reference to Work Refusals and the agreement that CRA “would not assign any other employee to use or operate the machine or thing or to work in that place pending resolution of the situation.”  This message is on the OHS website however, there is concern that with future webpage redesigns, this wording may be removed. Ms. Lorenzato proposed that this statement could be included in the OHS General Directive that has yet to be developed. The NHSPC agreed that this would effectively document the commitment.

2. AVCs and Directions

The NHSPC was informed that the new ‘Procedures for Working with Human Resources Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) - Health and Safety Officers’ were finalized and distributed to the Regional OHS representatives and the Work Place Health and Safety Committees (WPHSCs). The procedures provide additional information that will ensure a standardized approach and an appropriate response will be given. The NHSPC was advised that copies of AVCs and Directions would be provided to the WPHSCs as well as the resulting corrective measures. It was agreed that the procedures would be revised to clarify that WPHSCs will be kept up-to-date, on all follow-up matters related to AVCs and Directions. It is important to note that these procedures were developed as a result of the Agency receiving two Assurance of Voluntary Compliances (AVCs). 

The first AVC was received in the Québec Region on July 5, 2012, and it addressed the requirement for WPHSCs to inspect their locations monthly. It was confirmed that as these non-conformances could be present in other offices, a communiqué was issued on July 20, 2012, highlighting the requirement for monthly WPHSC inspections, even during the summer months and in small offices. The topic was also discussed in the WPHSC Newsletter that was issued in the Fall 2012, reinforcing that it is the responsibility of the WPHSCs, to conduct their monthly inspections. The Québec Region has assured the national OHS office that they have worked closely with their WPHSCs since the AVC, to ensure the monthly inspections occur and are recorded.

The second AVC was issued in the Ontario Region on October 31, 2012. This was in response to a complaint received from the Sudbury Taxation Services Office’s WPHSC. The Committee was not provided with notice of the Legionnaire’s Disease testing, and when repeatedly asked for the testing results, the results were not shared.  The NHSPC was advised that all the non-conformances were corrected, and a written response was provided to HRSDC on December 19, 2012. The WPHSC was provided with the results of the testing on December 11, 2012. As well, on January 21, 2013, a meeting was held between the WPHSC and Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) representatives in Sudbury, to discuss communication related to any future OHS-related building testing. 

As these non-conformances could also be present in other offices, this issue was discussed with the Finance and Administration Branch (F&A). F&A has contacted PWGSC to ensure that in Crown owned buildings, that PWGSC is advising CRA at the local level when tests are being done, and the test results must be provided. In leased buildings, PWGSC has not asked landlords to do specific tests and provide results, but has asked the landlords to confirm that they are complying with relevant codes and regulations with adequate maintenance programs to meet industry standards and practices. F&A communicated this message to their regional network and the OHS Group provided the same information to the Regional Labour Relations Advisors Responsible for OHS.

3. National action plan: Lessons Learned from the Fitgerald CAMPUS INCIDENT

The Fitzgerald Campus Incident was an important event for the Agency as it showed that while we have a strong Emergency Management Program; more needs to be done to ensure our managers and employees are prepared to respond to all types of emergencies.

In an effort to continue to ensure the health and safety of our employees during emergencies, the Finance and Administration Branch (F&A) consolidated the lessons learned from this event and developed a National Action Plan to integrate these lessons within the Agency’s current program.

The Committee was provided with an overview of the National Action Plan and initiatives as follows:

A – Emergency Planning and Response Initiatives:

  • Review all Headquarters (HQ) Emergency Response Plans as a comprehensive review of all regions was conducted in 2011-2012, and gaps remained in the HQ region;
  • Review Emergency Drill Requirements in CRA buildings;
  • Revise Emergency Response Directive and Procedures; and
  • Enhance Responsible Building Authority (RBA) and Building Emergency Organization (BEO) tools and consultation with first responders.

B – Communication Strategy:

  • Evaluate options for the provision and standardization of BEO communication tools to increase awareness and provide clarification;
  • Review and communicate Leadership Critical Communication Directive to ensure internal and external protocols are clear and well known; and
  • Develop a comprehensive Emergency Response Awareness and Communication Plan to support the Emergency Response Program.

C – Coordination of Emergencies:

  • Develop tools to support the RBA in managing co-tenancy effectively that will address the legislative implications (municipal/provincial) and organizational diversity.

D – Support to CRA Employees:

  • Review the current practices and requirements for the use of identifiers by BEO members and RBAs.

The NHSPC agreed that the WPHSCs should be included in the consultative process as it pertains emergency response planning, protocols and procedures.

The Employee Representatives reported that in the Pacific Region there were bomb sweep teams that involved employee members. The Emergency and Incident Management Division (EIMD) will follow-up and provide the NHSPC with an update.

4. CRA EMergency drill requirements

The NHSPC was informed that the key lesson learned from the Fitzgerald Campus Incident was that while the Agency is well prepared to respond to fire emergencies, additional education must be provided to managers and employees regarding the techniques and processes to effectively respond to a variety of emergency situations.  As a result, the Finance and Administration Branch (F&A) is currently reviewing emergency drill requirements and practices with a view to ensure drills are conducted not only in preparation for fires but also for other types of events.

The NHSPC was then provided with an overview of the progress made towards the National Action Plan initiative.  Under the Deficit Reduction Action Plan (DRAP), HRSDC will be terminating the Federal Fire Protection Program, effective April 2014. With the termination of the national HRSDC program, the CRA will be required to incorporate these requirements into its existing program. The Agency is currently participating in federal level consultations to examine how other departments are planning to assume these responsibilities. In the coming months, F&A will undertake internal stakeholder consultations and a strategy will be developed to ensure the Agency is ready to assume these new responsibilities as of April 2014. The proposed approach would include standardized drill requirements and fire extinguisher training as part of an annual Agency exercise calendar. The NHSPC will be a key stakeholder in the development of this strategy and the Committee will be consulted accordingly. The Employee Representatives advised that the WPHSCs should be consulted when reviewing the drill requirements.

As well, the NHSPC requested a list of every CRA-occupied building so that a checklist can be developed to monitor annual fire drill requirements.  To verify that each CRA-occupied location has completed their annual fire drill, it was proposed that this requirement be added to the Appendix A of the WPHSC minute template where all legislated requirements are tracked. This proposal will be examined further following consultation with EIMD. In the fall, these reports would be provided to the NHSPC. The NHSPC will review the Annual Drills/Emergency Response results on a yearly basis, with the purpose of identifying gaps, best practices and confirming legislated compliance. 

5. Work Place Inspections

The Human Resources Branch (HRB) and F&A representatives met with the NHSPC Employee Co-Chair Doug Mason on January 28, 2013, to discuss work place inspections of parking lots, and restricted areas within CRA occupied buildings.

At this meeting, management reiterated that employee parking lots are not considered work places and CRA has no operational authority over them.  As a result, CRA management representatives are not responsible to remedy any health and safety concerns that may be reported.  Employee concerns should be directed to the attention of the parking lot owner/operator.

The parties agreed to work collaboratively to develop a Question and Answer (Q&A) type document to provide additional guidance with respect to monthly inspections, and to provide standard messaging for employees, managers, and union representatives.  As well, management agreed to review any unusual situations that may require an exception to the standardized approach to monthly WPHSC inspections.

At the NHSPC meeting in December and again at the January meeting, it was confirmed that Senior Management at HRSDC had been contacted by Ms. Lorenzato to seek clarity regarding the definition of a workplace.  HRSDC’s response confirmed that the definition is “interpreted broadly” to offer employers’ flexibility in determining what constitutes the workplace, to meet their own circumstances.  The Employee Representatives were provided with a draft Q&A document as well as a copy of HRSDC’s response to facilitate their review and comment.  Feedback will be provided in April 2013, followed by further consultation if required. 

6. job hazard analyses (For Field Employees/Multiple Environment)

The NHSPC was advised that the Job Hazard Analysis for Field Employees and the Multiple Environment Job Hazard Analysis agenda items were merged to facilitate updates on these initiatives.

The Committee was informed that work is underway related to the Job Hazard Analysis for Field Employees to outline training requirements to accompany the Procedures for Field Employees Conducting Off-Site Visits.  In addition to the training, additional products are being considered to determine their applicability for field employees.  These products include, but are not limited to, trip plans and standardized emergency kits.

On January 28, 2013, the Multiple Environment Job Hazard Analysis (MEJHA) Action Report was presented to the Human Resources Committee (HRC). HRC has requested that a detailed action plan be developed to address the high risk items, including timelines, to be presented to HRC within three months. 

The MEJHA Working Group met on March 5, 2013, to begin the development of a detailed action plan and assign the work associated with the action items in order to report back to the HRC. All feedback from the various Working Group members has been incorporated, and will be shared with the NHSPC when available. The Human Resources Branch will continue to monitor and report on the progress of the implementation of the MEJHA action items to the NHSPC, and the various Senior Management Committees.

WRITTEN UPDATES

The following Written Updates were provided to the Committee:

Training Report

Statistics for Health and Safety Training: The ‘Health and Safety for Employees’  e-learning training session was released on October 20, 2011. The ‘Health and Safety for Managers’ course has been converted from classroom presentation to an e-learning training session. The new e-learning training product will be launched in April 2013.

As of February 15, 2013, 525 managers and 3,042 employees still require Health and Safety training.

Work Place Violence Prevention Training: The Work Place Violence Prevention e-learning training product was released on October 26, 2011. As of February 15, 2013, 13,942 employees (including managers) have not completed this mandatory training. 

The NHSPC reviewed the training statistics and noted a number of discrepancies. The Employee Representatives request that the verification of the statistics for Violence Prevention in the Atlantic Region. The Committee noted that this could be explained by population fluctuations and reporting irregularities with the Corporate Administrative System (CAS).  However, it was agreed that validating these statistics would be facilitated if the regional populations were provided for comparison purposes.

The NHSPC agreed that the progress of this training needs to be accelerated. To this end, the Committee will request that a list of all employees and managers who have not completed the mandatory OHS training courses should be compiled and provided to Senior Management to reinforce legislated compliance.

Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) Training: The Committee discussed the requirement for WHMIS training to be provided to employees who completed the OHS classroom training prior to the release of the e-learning module. Different options will be investigated to meet this legislated requirement, and a meeting will be held with the Employee Co-Chair to consult on this training initiative. The outcome of these discussions will be provided to the NHSPC.

Occupational Health and Safety Communication Plan

The Committee reviewed the updated Communication Plan for 2012-2013 and confirmed that it effectively addressed the relevant OHS topics. The proposed plan for 2013-2014 had been shared with the Employee Co-Chair for review  and comment. Mr. Mason took the opportunity to approve the communiqué that had been prepared for the National Day of Mourning that will be held on  April 28, 2013.

Legionnaires Disease Testing

The NHSPC was informed that Real Property had consulted with Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) to reinforce the requirement to share reports with the WPHSCs. As well, the regions have been surveyed and it was confirmed that the communication channels are functioning well. Moving forward, if there are any concerns or issues, they will be escalated to the Employee Co-Chair and the Recording Secretary of the NHSPC.

Work Place Health and Safety Committee Effectiveness

The latest edition of the WPHSC newsletter was published on February 15, 2013. The next newsletter will be published in April 2013.

After further consultations, the Recommendation Form was updated. The new version of the template has replaced the previous one on InfoZone.

Further to comments raised at the last meeting, the minute template has been updated to make it more accessible for adaptive technology.

Work has begun on the other pieces supporting Work Place Health and Safety Committee Effectiveness. Work continues on the tools and processes for WPHSCs to identify goals and objectives. However, improving the tools and processes for workplace inspections have taken precedence. All stakeholders will be consulted throughout the development process.

Finally, when the Terms of Reference Template and Guide were published on May 4, 2012, the WPHSCs were required to provide the National OHS Office with their new or current valid Terms of Reference by March 31, 2013. A reminder was sent to the Regions on February 6, 2013, and the situation is being monitored.

Employee Representatives have additional feedback regarding the Terms of Reference.  It was agreed that these comments would be considered when WPHSC training is reviewed in Fall 2013.

Employee Representatives requested that efforts continue to provide an avenue by which WPHSCs can access WINFAST reports.

Two regional/local issues were escalated to the NHSPC for direction. The issues are related to the use of Electronic Cigarettes in the work place and the use of Exercise Balls instead of chairs, at work stations. The NHSPC will review research on both these subjects and decide what type of guidance should be issued.

Quarterly Security Incident Reports

The Employee Co-Chair was provided with the Quarterly Security Incident Reports for 2012.  Mr. Mason commented that it would be appreciated if a regional summary could be included, so that this summary can be shared with the WPHSCs, for validation purposes. 

CLOSING REMARKS

The Co-Chairs expressed their appreciation to the Committee members for their valuable participation in addressing the agenda items. To ensure the continued success of the NHSPC meetings, Ms. Lorenzato proposed that the Committee plan ahead for the upcoming year, by preparing a Forward Agenda. This agenda would outline topics the NHSPC can discuss to ensure a strategic, proactive, and productive approach. The Committee was in favor of this suggestion and a commitment was made to prepare a Forward Agenda and share it with the NHSPC for review and comment, before the next meeting. As well, the decision was made for the Committee to review the NHSPC Action Item Report as it will be a Standing Item at every meeting before proceeding with the formal agenda. This will allow the NHSPC to track progress, achievements, and deliverables for the various agenda items.

Ms. Lorenzato reminded everyone that the 2013 North American Occupational Safety and Health Week would be held from May 5 – 11.  As per past practise, a jointly signed memo would be distributed to the Regions to advise them of the date and to provide them with reference material. The Co-Chairs agreed to review and distribute this memo.

Both Co-Chairs thanked everyone for their valuable participation, in addressing today’s agenda items and wished all the members a Happy Easter.

 

Diane Lorenzato
Employer Co-Chair
National Health and Safety
Policy Committee

Doug Mason
Employee Co-Chair
National Health and Safety
Policy Committee

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