Health and Safety Committee

Minutes of the National Health and Safety Policy Committee Meeting

September 19, 2013

DATE:                    September 19, 2013                    TIME: 1:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

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

ATTENDEES:

Employer Representatives

Employee Representatives

Members

Secretary

Observers 

Guests                   

Diane Lorenzato
(Employer Co-Chair)
Claude P. Tremblay
Brian Pagan
Helen Brown
Josée Tremblay

Heather Di Penta

Susan Fagan                     
Dan Couture

Sylvie McCartney
Jaime Robinson
                

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

Pierre Mulvihill (UTE)

OPENING REMARKS

Ms. Diane Lorenzato welcomed everyone to the third National Health and Safety Policy Committee (NHSPC) meeting of 2013. The contributions of Mr. Mark Perlman were acknowledged, who had accepted another federal posting. At the same time, Mr. Brian Pagan was introduced to the NHSPC as a new member, having assumed the position of the Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Finance and Administration Branch (FAB). As well, Ms. Lorenzato introduced Mr. Dan Couture, who is the new Deputy Assistant Commissioner, of the Human Resources Branch (HRB). He will be attending the NHSPC meetings because he is interested in the health and safety issues that are being addressed, and will provide support with the Committee business. Mr. Mason acknowledged the introductions and indicated that he looked forward to their contributions and those of all the Committee members when discussing the important health and safety issues.  

1. AVCs and Directions

It was confirmed that the NHSPC had been notified of two Assurance of Voluntary Compliances (AVCs) that had been issued in the Ontario Region since the last meeting. The first one was issued on June 3, 2013, to the Thunder Bay Tax Services Office (TSO). The AVC indicated that Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) must ensure that elevators meet the requirements of various standards and regulations, and that employees are made aware of elevator-related hazards. Based on information from Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC), the response that was provided to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) indicated that the elevator would be replaced, and that the CRA was compliant with the AVC. This response was provided to HRSDC and this Committee on June 27, 2013. In addition, the National Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Section and representatives from the Real Property Service Integration Directorate (RPSID) have been working closely with PWGSC, to improve communication with local Work Place Health and Safety Committees (WPHSCs).

The second AVC was issued on July 3, 2013, to the Toronto North TSO, and was in response to an employee complaint related to ergonomic furniture. A response was sent to HRSDC and shared with this Committee on July 25, 2013. The HRSDC representative was satisfied that the current CRA Health and Safety Program responded to the AVC.  

The NHSPC agreed that the Procedures for Working with Human Resources and Skills Development Canada – Health and Safety Officers (link to an InfoZone website) would ensure a standardized approach and the involvement of the WPHSCs.    

2. CRA OHS Program

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

OHS Annual Report

An overview of the OHS Annual Report for 2012-2013 was provided to the NHSPC. It was confirmed CRA’s OHS Program structure is being modeled on the international safety standard BSI OHSAS 18001:2007 that incorporates a “plan-do-check-act” approach. The report highlighted a number of the advancements that have been made to the OHS Program including: the update to the OHS Policy; the completion of the Multiple Environment Job Hazard Analysis report (Phase 3); the development an Ergonomic Strategy; the delivery of an e-learning OHS training course for managers; and the web-based Hazardous Occurrence Reporting Form (T-4009). The NHSPC was advised that the OHS Annual Report had been shared with senior management committees, including the Board of Management who acknowledged the progress being made and confirmed their support for continuous improvement.   

Ergonomic Strategy

The NHSPC was advised that the implementation of the Ergonomic Strategy continues, and there will be a number of activities occurring this fall. Videos are being created that will provide employees with instructions for workstation adjustments and they will be available on the OHS website. The National OHS Section is working with representatives from ‘Know How’, to provide another avenue for employees to access key ergonomic messages. An Ergonomic Coach Tracking Tool has been developed that will allow coaches to indicate the number of ergonomic adjustments they have conducted. This data will be accessible to the National OHS Section for reporting on the progress of the Ergonomic Strategy. Information is being developed for employees regarding Industrial Ergonomics, for those who do not work in a typical office workstation. The NHSPC was advised that Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for Office Ergonomics had been drafted to provide clarity to roles and responsibilities, and based on feedback received from the stakeholders, was undergoing another revision.

Exercise Balls as Chairs

The NHSPC confirmed that the research paper had been reviewed by the Working Group and it was agreed that an Information Bulletin would be issued by the NHSPC, outlining the Certified Ergonomist’s recommendations, which include:

      • employees should only use an exercise ball as a chair if recommended by a medical or rehabilitation professional, and there must be on-going supervision by this professional; and
      • exercise balls are not recommended as an appropriate alternative to regular office chairs in the work place, because of the potential risks from their use outweigh the benefits.

The Information Bulletin will be distributed to the WPHSCs, Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs), and the Ergonomic Coaches, to ensure they have the information readily available to share with employees and address their concerns. An Information bulletin for employees will be posted on InfoZone with a link to the research paper which is titled, ‘Ergonomic Literature Review’. It is important to note that the current approach is educational, and does not reflect an outright ban.

T-4009

The new online T-4009 is operational and the few technical issues that have been identified were promptly resolved. The next update to the T-4009 will allow the use of WPHSC inbox UserIDs, as well as enhancements and clarifications to the emails sent to stakeholders. The NHSPC will be consulted on this messaging, as will the committees that made the suggested changes. A joint message from the NHSPC will be prepared to announce the full implementation of the online T-4009. At that time, paper versions of the form will no longer be accepted. The Employee Representatives expressed concern regarding accident reporting when employees are in virtual reporting situations. The NHSPC will review virtual reporting relationships at the next committee meeting, and specifically how OHS issues and/or concerns will be reported.

Policy Instruments

The NHSPC agreed that a Working Group would be formed to continue to review the Agency’s policy instruments, with the mandate to streamline and update these documents to ensure OHS information is concise and available to the audiences who require it. Ms. Debbie Ferguson and Mr. Harry Walker were identified as members of this Working Group; the group will present any subsequent recommendations to the NHSPC.    

3. Workplace 2. 0

Workplace 2. 0 is a government-wide initiative being led by PWGSC in response to the Clerk of the Privy Council’s commitment to workplace renewal. This includes the Workplace 2. 0 Fit-Up Standards that are being implemented by the CRA, as project opportunities arise. Examples of these opportunities include at newly leased sites or renewed lease commitments at existing sites, when supported by clear cost-benefit considerations. Information about the CRA’s Workplace 2. 0 Fit-Up Standards is available on the RPSID Webpage, on InfoZone.

The NHSPC was advised that there are a number of benefits that the new Standards will offer to CRA employees, such as new modernized office spaces and furniture; a more open office environment providing natural light and better air flow; sound-masking technology allowing dampened noise levels; additional quiet rooms allowing for private discussions; and collaborative seating areas for informal meetings.  

The RPSID has advised their representatives in the field that it is important to collaborate with the local WPHSC or Health and Safety Representative (HSR), regarding new space fit-up or any major reconfiguration of existing space.  
Communication with these key stakeholders and employees is an important element of the ‘Change Management’ strategy, to ensure that Workplace 2. 0 is successfully implemented. A few of the considerations that will be taken into account include medical accommodations, adjustability of workstations, access to private meeting space and multiple exit doors for interview rooms.

The NHSPC was advised that meetings were held at the end of August, with representatives from the Union of Taxation Employees (UTE) and the Audit Financial and Scientific (AFS) Group. In these meetings, the issue of ergonomics and the importance of employee involvement were raised. The representatives were assured that these elements have been incorporated in the project development process. A commitment was made to share a copy of the Workplace 2. 0 presentation, as well as the Agency Management communication package on this topic, with Employee Representatives. It was also confirmed that a separate meeting could be arranged, if required.

4. Electronic Smoking Devices

A Discussion Paper on Electronic Smoking Devices was shared with the Employee Representatives, and the Working Group met on August 22, 2013 to form its recommendations. The NHSPC was in agreement that an Information Bulletin should be issued with the following messaging:

  • Although electronic smoking devices may present another option for smoking cessation for the consumer of the product, as it remains untested, it is not known if there are secondary risks to people in the vicinity of the consumer; and

  • To ensure that potential risks are not introduced into the work environment, CRA employees who wish to use these products may continue to do so outdoors, in designated smoking areas.   

  • The NHSPC will continue to monitor developments and the position of Health Canada, as it is the authority on this matter.  

The Information Bulletin will be posted on InfoZone and distributed to WPHSCs.

5. Fire Extinguisher training

As required under the Canada Labour Code Part II, all employees must be trained on how to use fire protection equipment within the workplace. As most CRA employees work in an office environment, explaining the appropriate use and operating features of a portable fire extinguisher would provide sufficient training, and ensure compliance. The Emergency and Incident Management Division (EIMD) are introducing a one minute instructional video that will be formally launched during Fire Prevention Week in October. The video will be accompanied with a printable job aid that will provide CRA employees with step-by-step operating procedures for a fire extinguisher. EIMD is reviewing options that will record completion of this training. The NHSPC will be provided with an update accordingly. The Employee Representatives raised a concern regarding emergency situations that occur during silent hours. EIMD confirmed that the drill requirements would include non-core hours.

Bomb Threats

With reference to the Enhanced Emergency Management tool that was reviewed  at the previous NHSPC meeting, the Committee discussed the importance of the WPHSC being involved when a national incident (e. g. bomb threat) is reported.  It was agreed that employees should be aware of known or foreseeable safety and health hazards in the work place.

6. Work Place Inspections

The NHSPC agreed that the Question and Answer (Q&A) document has been finalized and incorporates the feedback from the Employee Representatives as well as key CRA stakeholders. The document was also streamlined to focus on the information that will help WPHSCs and HSRs make decisions regarding their inspection protocols.  

A communiqué from the NHSPC Co-Chairs will be issued to the WPHSCs and HSRs to provide them with the finalized Q&A document. The Q&A document will be posted on the OHS website to ensure the inspection protocols are documented and to reinforce a standardized approach.  

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

Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) for Field Employees

The draft training package for field employees conducting off-site visits was shared with the Working Group. Their feedback has been reviewed and updates have been made. Consultations are ongoing with the Training and Learning Directorate to determine the optimal training product for all field employees. The NHSPC was advised that work is also continuing on the associated tools for field employees, such as trip plans.

Multiple Environment Job Hazard Analysis (MEJHA)

The Multiple Environment Job Hazard Analysis (MEJHA) detailed action report was presented to the Human Resources Committee (HRC) on May 21, 2013.  An update on the status of the various action items will be presented to the HRC in November 2013. The Commissioner expressed concern with the extended timeframes on the higher risk/priority items and wants to see progress made on these items over the next three months. Where longer timelines are needed, the Commissioner wants to see dates identified for the interim milestones or steps that will mark progress towards the final result.

The Working Group met on September 12, 2013 to finalize the detailed action report, which will be shared with the NHSPC. Work will continue with the Branches to ensure that the various action items progress and the NHSPC will also be provided with a status report.

With regard to hazards in the work place, the NHSPC will confirm what measures are in place to deal with verbal aggression that is directed toward employees, specifically phone agents. This deliverable will be addressed administratively or tabled for discussion if required.  

8. WORK PLACE HEALTH AND SAFETY COMMITTEE EFFECTIVENESS

Committee Scorecard

The NHSPC was advised that the results from the WPHSC mid-year scorecard are being consolidated, and will be shared with the NHSPC, to confirm the progress being made with respect to the legislated requirements (e. g.  work place inspections).

It was noted that an electronic solution is being reviewed that will allow WPHSC Co-chairs and HSRs to fill in Appendix A electronically, on a monthly basis. The draft product will be shared with the Employee Representatives for comment, as soon as it is available.

Committee Newsletter

The NHSPC was advised that the summer edition of the newsletter was published on July 11, 2013, and outlined OHS topics for discussion and important highlights. The Committee was advised that the newsletter is entering its third year of publication and the draft copy of the fall edition would be provided to the NHSPC for review and comment.  

Inspection Procedure and Guide

A Work Place Inspection procedure and guide are being developed to provide WPHSCs and HSRs with tools and information to help them conduct inspections, as well as follow-up on corrective measures. These documents will also include advice on preparing and planning for inspections, to ensure the local WPHSCs and HSRs meet their obligations under the Canada Labour Code, Part II. These documents will be shared with NHSPC for review and comment prior to distribution.  

Committee Meeting Minutes

The National OHS Section has been reviewing WPHSCs’ meeting minutes and has noted that the committees are consistently focusing on the higher priority health and safety issues. This may be explained by a variety of factors, including the new OHS tools and products being published that provide guidance documents, as well as the information provided in the newsletter.  

9. Health and safety Representation for CRA employees located at canada border services agency (CBSA) Work sites

At the last NHSPC meeting in May, a question was raised regarding health and safety representation for IT employees working permanently in CBSA work sites.  The Committee was advised that this matter is currently being researched however; it was noted that the WPHSC and HSR structure is broad in scope.  

The NHSPC agreed to establish a Working Group that would review the issue of health and safety representation, and develop protocols to ensure that legislative requirements are met.  

10. safety procedures and guidelines for corporate services division

The NHSPC was advised that the Corporate Services Division (CSD) is finalizing an environmental scan of all operations, and is also developing national procedures and guidelines. The scan identified buildings with powered material-handling equipment operations. While responses indicated that all operators of equipment have been trained on safe operations, many locations lack a full Lift Truck safety program. CSD has received responses to a Request for Proposal (RFP) for Lift Trucks Maintenance and Repair Services, and Operator Training Services.  Providing these services via an RFP will assist in standardizing training, inspections, maintenance, and record management nationally and will be the precursor to a comprehensive Lift Truck Safety Program.  

A national list of tasks performed by CSD administration staff is currently being created. An in-depth hazards analysis will be performed on each task to identify all hazards and corrective measures that will assist in the development of standard operating procedures and guidelines. A completed list will be available November 2013. While operation-specific guidelines and procedures are being drafted, CSD will issue guidance on legislative and regulatory requirements, along with general OHS instructions.

At the same time, an elimination strategy is being developed for products and equipment identified as hazardous, or those that are not required in performing sanctioned CSD functional activities. Standardization of various products and equipment is also being reviewed in order to provide consistent procedures, guidelines, and training to CSD employees.  

A national inventory of hazardous substances used by CSD administration is being created based on the information gathered as part of the scan.  A review of Material Safety Data Sheets, a culling of products, and the development of guidelines for the acquisition, use, storage and disposal of authorized products will be completed by the end of the 2013 calendar year. The final list will contain only products authorized by CSD for use by corporate service administration employees. It is anticipated that detailed site specific safety procedures and guidelines for CSD functional activities will be in place by summer 2015.

WRITTEN UPDATES

The following Written Updates were provided to the Committee:

Training Report

The NHSPC agreed that the OHS training numbers would be consolidated using a new reporting system. The training data is collected centrally by the Training and Learning Directorate, and the monthly demographic profile is produced by the Demographics and Workforce Analysis Section. The information from both sources was extracted for this report on August 1, 2013.  

The demographic information assists the NHSPC in its review and analysis of the training update, 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 provided to depict the quarterly training numbers, and allow the NHSPC to track the historical results for the various OHS training products. The NHSPC reviewed various communication approaches to ensure the legislated requirement for training was met. As part of this discussion, the Employee Representatives highlighted the importance of students receiving health and safety training on a priority basis. The NHSPC agreed that the Committee should focus on OHS training for students, as well as for Contractors and employees who are in Non-Typical work arrangements.

Statistics for Health and Safety Training:
As of August 1, 2013, 579 managers and 2,832 employees require Health and Safety training.   

Work Place Violence Prevention Training:
As of August 1, 2013, the data confirms that 9,528 employees have not completed this training.  

Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) Training:
The NHSPC agreed to establish a Working Group to recommend a training strategy that will 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.  This strategy will take into consideration the Globally Harmonized System that will be implemented by 2015.  WHMIS regulations will be updated and this new information will have to be reflected in the Agency’s OHS Training courses.

Occupational Health and Safety Communication Plan

The Committee was provided with an update for the national OHS Communication Plan for 2013-2014. The annual reminder would be issued in September, to promote and support mandatory OHS Training. This course list included Health and Safety for Employees, Health and Safety for Managers, Work Place Violence Prevention, as well as Work Place Health and Safety Committee Member Training. The update confirmed that the topic of Flu Prevention would be covered in the fall edition of the WPHSC Newsletter.  

Quarterly Security Incident Reports

The Employee Co-Chair was provided with the Quarterly Security Incident Reports for April to June 2013. These reports were sent to regional OHS representatives, and distributed to the WPHSCs for validation purposes.   

CLOSING REMARKS

When the meeting agenda was completed, the NHSPC members discussed new items that would be placed on the Forward Agenda. This planning document will be reviewed quarterly to ensure that the Committee addresses national issues in a structured and strategic manner. The NHSPC Co-Chairs thanked everyone for their valuable participation and confirmed that the Committee would reconvene on December 12, 2013, for the next NHSPC meeting.  

Original signed by

 

Original signed by

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

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

Date: January 28, 2014

Date: January 15, 2014