Health and Safety Committee

Minutes of the National Health and Safety Policy Committee Meeting

May 30, 2013

DATE:                    May 30, 2013                                TIME: 1:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

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

ATTENDEES:

Management

Union

Members

Absent

Secretary

Observer

Guest                   

Claude P. Tremblay
(Alternate Employer
Co-Chair)
Mark Perlman
Helen Brown
Heather Di Penta

Diane Lorenzato
Josée Tremblay

Susan Fagan

Gisele Durocher

Ann Nitschke       
               

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

Doug Gaetz (UTE)

OPENING REMARKS

Mr. Doug Mason, Employee Co-Chair of the National Health and Safety Policy Committee (NHSPC), chaired the meeting and welcomed everyone to the second meeting of 2013. Mr. Mason indicated that he was looking forward to a productive meeting as the Committee discusses the interesting Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) issues on the agenda.

The Alternate Employer Co-Chair, Mr. Claude Tremblay took the opportunity to highlight the elevated profile that has been given to a variety of OHS initiatives. A successful communication campaign was launched in April, beginning with the introduction of the new OHS Policy, which is the cornerstone of the Agency’s OHS Program. As well, a spotlight was put on a number of OHS advancements such as the new E-Learning Product for Managers, the Ergonomic Strategy, and the on-line Hazardous Occurrence Investigation Report (T4009). Mr. Tremblay informed the NHSPC that for the first time an OHS Login Banner was used to publicize the North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week that took place from May 5 to 11, 2013. The central theme throughout the OHS communication campaign was that health and safety in the workplace is a priority and everyone must do their part.

The NHSPC acknowledged that there is a lot of interest in OHS and it is important that the Committee continue to work together throughout the remainder of this year to address the health and safety issues and concerns of our employees.  Following the opening remarks, the NHSPC proceeded with the agenda.

1. AVCs and Directions

As agreed at the last NHSPC meeting, Assurance of Voluntary Compliances (AVCs) and Directions will be a standing item on the agenda. The Committee was informed that the Agency had not received an AVC or Direction since the NHSPC meeting that was held on March 28, 2013, and that a Nil Report had been sent to the Employee Co-Chair to confirm this. As well, the ‘Procedures for Working with Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) – Health and Safety Officers’ have been revised to clarify that Work Place Health and Safety Committees (WPHSCs) will be kept up-to-date on all follow-up matters, related to AVCs and Directions. Once the edits have been finalized, the revised procedures will be distributed once again to the WPHSCs.

2. CRA OHS Program

The NHSPC was provided with an update on the following OHS initiatives:

Ergonomic Strategy

The objective of this initiative is to assist employees by providing them with information on the basic principles of office ergonomics, and the adjustable features of their office furniture. One of the key aspects of this strategy involves establishing Ergonomic Coaches who will assist employees with adjustments to their workstations, to optimize their set-up and improve their level of comfort. The assistance provided by Ergonomic Coaches, as well as the self-adjustment tools, should help address the majority of concerns employees may have when adapting to their workstation. Ergonomic Coaches are also able to provide employees with information about the principles of proper posture, and offer proactive measures such as stretching exercises that can be done in the work environment, to minimize the potential for discomfort. It is important to note that Ergonomic Coaches are not replacing expert Ergonomic Assessors, who deal with more complex ergonomic issues, such as those indicated by medical practitioners. The National OHS Section is working with the regions to establish a network of Ergonomic Coaches with the goal of having all Ergonomic Coaches trained, by the fall.  

The NHSPC was advised that Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for Office Ergonomics has been drafted to provide clarity to roles and responsibilities, as well as the implementation of the Ergonomic Strategy.

Exercise Balls as Chairs

The NHSPC has discussed whether employees should be allowed to use exercise balls instead of a chair, at their work stations. The Committee agreed that the services of a certified Ergonomist would be obtained to prepare a research paper outlining the health and safety considerations and respond to the NHSPC’s questions. A Working Group will be set up to discuss this topic and make recommendations to the NHSPC.

T4009

The on-line T4009 was implemented on May 1, 2013, after being piloted in the regions. All supporting documentation, such as information pages, graphics, flowcharts and frequently asked questions have been published. In addition, the WPHSCs and Health and Safety Representatives were provided with a presentation deck that they could use to provide presentations on the changes, to their colleagues and management teams.  The National OHS Section has been closely monitoring and resolving any technical issues encountered with the online form.
 
The Employee Co-Chair requested a copy of a report summarizing the result of the pilot and suggested that the NHSPC Co-Chairs send a communiqué to spotlight the T4009, because he is concerned that not all employees are aware of the new on-line form. The Employee Representatives also noted that a number of WPHSC’s expressed confusion because communication promoting the initiative was not clear as to when conversion from the paper form to the new online form, was to take place. Additional communication on this topic will be issued in the fall of 2013.

Additional OHS Topics

The NHSPC was advised that a draft of the OHS General Directive will be completed within this fiscal year and that it will document the agreement with respect to Work Refusals whereby the 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.” 

The Committee was advised that an update on the First Aid contract would be provided at the next NHSPC meeting.

Mr. Mason advised the NHSPC that a number of concerns had been brought to his attention regarding the design and implementation of Workplace 2.0. He indicated that he has been receiving feedback from local committees that there is a lack of communication, prior to launching a new Workplace 2.0 site. This issue will be placed on the agenda for the next NHSPC meeting. The Employee Representatives also expressed concern that in some CRA locations, WPHSC’s are not being consulted, in advance of new furniture being ordered.
 

3. ELECTRONIC SMOKING DEVICES

The issue of Electronic Smoking Devices was raised at the last NHSPC meeting.  At that time it was confirmed that the National OHS Section had conducted research on what studies and testing had been completed. The results of this research indicated that there was insufficient evidence as to the risks to the employee using these devices, and concerns related to the potential impact to other employees in the work place. The Committee was advised that Health Canada is not endorsing these smoking devices. The electronic smoking devices are unregulated, which introduces a higher level of risk. As such, additional testing is required to determine with certainty, the benefits and risks associated with the use of electronic smoking devices to the employees who would be exposed to the smoke vapour (chemicals). The NHSPC agreed that a Working Group would attend a separate meeting to discuss this issue further and a recommendation would be presented at the next NHSPC meeting.

4. eNHANCED eMERGENCY AND INCIDENT REPORTING TOOL

A representative from the Emergency and Incident Management Division (EIMD) presented the Electronic Reporting Tool that is currently being developed. The tool will standardize and automate emergency management, incident reporting, and planning processes. It will strengthen the accountability framework, facilitate timely communication and provide non-security stakeholders such as WPHSCs, with access to information regarding emergencies and security incidents. As identified users of the application, WPHSC members will have access to emergency response plans, fire safety plans and evacuation drill reports, along with details regarding local security incidents with health and safety implications.   It will be possible to provide access to both the Employee and Employer WPHSC Co-Chairs in the OHS coordinator role, to facilitate notifications.

5. CRA EMERGENCY DRILL REQUIREMENTS

The Enhanced Drill Requirements were presented to the Security and Emergency Management Committee, in April 2013. The NHSPC was advised that drills will be conducted not only in preparation for fires but also for other types of events, to support employee safety. A standard Emergency Drill calendar for all CRA buildings will be developed and distributed to increase employee awareness. The Enhanced Drill Requirements were outlined for the Committee which will ensure standardization (4 drills annually – 2 must include building evacuation), irrespective of building height and Agency tenant status. Although building height will not be a factor in determining the number of drills, the NHSPC will be provided with the definition of a high rise building, as there are additional logistical challenges when evacuating these buildings.

As well, the Committee will be provided with a list of the various types of drill exercises (e.g. earthquakes, bomb threat, fire, etc.).

When drill exercises are completed, the WPHSC will be informed of the outcomes and corrective measures that must be implemented. The NHSPC will continue to be consulted as the drill exercise packages are developed, along with the implementation plan. As well, a commitment was made to provide the Committee with the Emergency Drill Report, on an annual basis. 

The Employee Representatives raised concerns regarding the evacuation of mobility challenged employees who are facing these challenges temporarily. There was a concern that managers may not be aware of their reporting responsibilities in that regard, to ensure the Chief Building Emergency Officer for their location is advised. Enquiries will be made regarding the use of the Illness and Injury Process Tool, to reinforce this requirement. 

In response to a query at the last NHSPC meeting, it was confirmed that bomb sweep teams have been disbanded.

6. Work Place Inspections

The NHSPC agreed that the question and answer (Q&A) document is nearing completion, as the feedback from the Employee Representatives was being reviewed and the draft would be updated accordingly.  The next step will be to share the new version with the Employee Representatives, to confirm that no further edits are required.  It is expected that at the next NHSPC meeting, another milestone will be reached, as the document should be finalized. The plan will be to distribute the Q&A document to the WPHSCs, to provide them with guidance, when performing work place inspections.

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

Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) for Field Employees

The NHSPC was advised that all training materials are being consolidated to create a training package that will accompany the ‘Procedures for Field Employees Conducting Off-Site Visits’.  The JHA Working Group will review the documentation compiled and the Training and Learning Directorate will be engaged to determine the design for this training. Work continues on the associated tools for field employees, such as trip plans.

Multiple Environment Job Hazard Analysis (MEJHA)

The MEJHA Working Group has developed a detailed action report and assigned the work associated with the various action items. The Human Resources Committee (HRC) has requested accelerated timelines for the high risk items and confirmation as to the number of employees who are impacted. With this mandate, the Working Group will work with the various branches to revise the timelines and will monitor the progress of the various action items. The NHSPC will be provided with a status update at the next meeting.

8. PSYCHOLOGICAL HEALTH AND SAFETY IN THE WORKPLACE

A preliminary meeting was held on April 26, 2013, with Employee Representatives to discuss the newly introduced Canadian Standard Association (CSA) standard Z1003 entitled: Psychological health and safety in the workplace - Prevention, promotion, and guidance to staged implementation. This meeting included stakeholders from the various CRA portfolios (e.g. Employee Assistance Program, Occupational Health and Safety, Conflict Resolution, Values and Ethics, Integrity Framework and Disability Management) to highlight their connection to this topic. The meeting participants acknowledged that the Agency has already taken many measures to address the topic of mental health. The Employee Representatives recommended that the CRA adopt the standard and identify a project lead. Given that the standard was only recently released, a commitment was made to take additional time to review the standard in further detail. This review will identify what is already in place and where there may be gaps with respect to the approach, suggested in the standard. Once the review process is completed, the meeting participants agreed to reconvene. The NHSPC will be provided with updates on the outcome of the consultation process. The Employee Co-Chair acknowledged that many stakeholders are involved but stated that it is the unions’ position that this is a health and safety issue that the NHSPC needs to take the lead on.

9. WORK PLACE HEALTH AND SAFETY COMMITTEE EFFECTIVENESS

The NHSPC was advised that the spring edition of the Health and Safety: Everybody’s Business newsletter was published on April 18, 2013. It focused on the suite of announcements that were issued in April and May regarding the new OHS Policy, Ergonomic Strategy, OHS Training for Managers, online version of the T4009 and the NAOSH Week announcement. In addition, the newsletter provided committees with suggestions for awareness and promotional OHS activities.

As a result of comments made at the last NHSPC meeting, the National OHS Section has published an accessible version of the WPHSC minutes template on InfoZone.

The results from the first WPHSC Scorecard were reviewed by the NHSPC. The Scorecard tracks whether the local committees have completed their 9 legislated meetings, 12 inspections, and submitted their signed Terms of Reference to the National OHS Section. Overall, the Scorecard provided a positive outcome, with 97% of the legislated meetings having taken place, and 89% of all WPHSCs having adopted Terms of Reference. However, the committees must be more diligent and ensure that all monthly inspections are completed. The Scorecard confirmed that 71% of inspections were completed. The NHSPC members agreed that this is not an acceptable result given the notifications that were sent to all WPHSCs in July and October 2012, informing them of the Quebec Region’s AVC and the legislative requirement for monthly inspections. 

Among the different initiatives underway to address this issue, there will be an article in the next newsletter clarifying the inspection legislative obligations. In addition, the National OHS Section will draft a Work Place Inspection Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), as well as an inspection guide for WPHSCs. This will include a checklist for the office environment and additional checklists will be produced as work progresses on the MEJHA action items. Finally, each WPHSC will be required to submit a completed Appendix A to the National OHS Section in late August 2013 that will provide a mid-year Scorecard result. This result will be reported at the next NHSPC meeting. The Employee Co-Chair requested an electronic copy of the Scorecard to promote and support continuous improvement efforts.

10. SSC EMPLOYEES CO-LOCATED WITH CRA EMPLOYEES

After the creation of Shared Services Canada (SSC), the CRA and SSC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that addressed Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) matters. The CRA provided support to SSC, where SSC and CRA employees were co-located within CRA workplaces, until the expiry of the MOU on March 31, 2013. In co-located CRA workplaces, if a SSC employee was a member of the WPHSC, they would continue to assume this role with the associated responsibilities, for the duration of the MOU.

The Employee Co-Chair confirmed receipt of the communiqué that SSC issued on April 2, 2013, to its employees indicating that “SSC is setting up a network of Work Place Health and Safety Committees and representatives, in all its work places.”  As well, it was noted that the role and responsibilities for the Agency’s WPHSCs will not change. The expiration of the MOU impacts SSC employees only. However, the regional Labour Relations Advisors who are responsible for OHS are prepared to address any enquiries and offer support, if required. 

When discussing co-location scenarios, the Employee Representatives questioned health and safety representation for IT employees working permanently, in Canada Border Services Agency work sites. This issue will be placed on the agenda for the September meeting and an update will be provided to the NHSPC at that time.

11. security incident reporting laminated tool

The Security Incident Reporting Laminated Tool was originally created as a job aid for the security community. It was not designed to capture the requirement to notify each stakeholder as these requirements depend on the type of incident at hand. Last fall, Assistant Commissioners became aware of the job aid and requested that it be made available to all employees. As the tool already existed, it was printed and distributed regionally. Earlier in the NHSPC meeting, the Committee was provided with a demonstration of the Emergency and Incident Management Electronic Tool that is currently under development. It is an automated tool that will prompt the user to enter information surrounding the event in question and will then in turn provide the proper notification to non-security stakeholders such as WPHSCs. The new tool will ensure that proper notifications occur and it will be complimented by the current practices and policy instruments that highlight the important role of WPHSCs in the security incident reporting process. There will not be a requirement to update and re-issue the Laminated Tool, as it is replaced by the electronic version.

WRITTEN UPDATES

The following Written Updates were provided to the Committee:

Training Report

The NHSPC agreed that additional information was required to provide context for the OHS training numbers that are reported, and to confirm the progress that is being made. To this end, a new reporting system has been established to generate the data from two sources, both generated from the Corporate Administrative System (CAS). The first source is the training data which is now consolidated centrally by the Training and Learning Directorate, and the second source is the monthly demographic profile that is produced by the Demographics and Workforce Analysis Section. The information from both sources was extracted for this report, on May 1, 2013.

This data consolidation will assist the NHSPC review and analyze the training update by providing demographic information such as the employee status
(i.e. permanent, term, student and seasonal) by region. The population fluctuations (increase/decrease) will be easily confirmed and considered when developing training strategies to improve the numbers. The demographic profile provides a numeric breakdown that when compared to the number of employees not trained will provide a measure, for the progress that is being made. A trend analysis was also outlined to depict the quarterly training numbers, as this will allow the NHSPC to track the historical results, for the various OHS training products.

Statistics for Health and Safety Training:
As of May 1, 2013, 510 managers and 3,414 employees require Health and Safety training. 

Work Place Violence Prevention Training:
As of May 1, 2013, the data confirms that 11,372 employees have not completed this training.

Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) Training:
The National OHS Section is investigating various training options to address 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. A meeting will be held with the Employee Co-Chair to consult on the recommended training strategy and the deployment plan. The outcome of these discussions will be provided to the NHSPC.

Occupational Health and Safety Communication Plan

The Committee was provided with an update for the national OHS Communication Plan for 2013-2014.  This update highlighted the numerous products that were issued in April and May, to support a variety of OHS initiatives (e.g. the new OHS Policy, E-Learning Product for Managers, the Ergonomic Strategy, and the on-line Hazardous Occurrence Investigation Report). As well, a communiqué was issued for the National Day of Mourning that was held on April 28, 2013. It was agreed that additional communications would be sent out to encourage completion of OHS training noted above.

Quarterly Security Incident Reports

The Employee Co-Chair was provided with the Quarterly Security Incident Reports for January to March 2013. The NHSPC was advised that this report includes a regional summary and that moving forward; these reports will be sent to regional OHS representatives, and distributed to the WPHSCs for validation purposes. 

CLOSING REMARKS

The NHSPC Co-Chairs thanked everyone for their valuable participation in addressing the important OHS issues on the meeting agenda.  It was confirmed  
that the Committee would reconvene on September 19, 2013, for the next NHSPC meeting. 

 

 

Claude P. Tremblay
Alternate Employer Co-Chair
National Health and Safety
Policy Committee

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

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