Health and Safety Committee

Minutes of the National Health and Safety Policy Committee Meeting

December 10, 2007

DATE: December 10, 2007 TIME:  1:30 pm - 2:45 pm

LOCATION: 8th Floor Boardroom, 200 Laurier Ave. West

ATTENDEES:

Management

Union

Members

Lysanne Gauvin  (Management Co-Chair)
Mary Jane Jackson
Jocelyn Malo
Claude Tremblay
Jean Laronde

Betty Bannon (Union Co-Chair)
Chris Aylward (UTE)
Doug Gaetz (UTE)
Harry Walker (PIPSC)
Doug Mason (PIPSC)

Secretary Leon Page  
Observers Paul Bruce
Sally McQuinn
Jaime Robinson
Pierre Mulvihill (UTE)
Lina Ruel (UTE)
Absent James Ralston  

OPENING REMARKS

The Management Co-Chair welcomed the Committee members to the final meeting of 2007, and noted that the Committee had made significant progress in addressing health and safety issues this year.  This included:

  • Development and rollout of the Health and Safety Training for Managers and the Health and Safety Awareness sessions for Employees, as well as the production and distribution of a new Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) video;
  • Revision and rollout of the Work Place Committee training package;
  • Creation of the new CRA Hazardous Occurrence Investigation Report (T4009), which came into effect in April of this year;
  • Continued progress on the Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) – Common Issues recommendations, with two thirds of the recommendations now completed, and progress being made on the final eight items; and,
  • Development of communiqués to the regions to advise them of important events, such as:
    • The National Day of Mourning, in remembrance of those workers killed or injured on the job;
    • North American Occupational Health and Safety Week;
    • Flu Clinics; and,
    • Influenza Prevention.

Progress had also been made toward addressing a number of other OHS issues, such as:

    • The Hazard Prevention Program; and,
    • The review of CRA OHS Policies.

In addition, work is ongoing on Pandemic Planning and the JHA for Field Employees.

The Committee acknowledged all of the good work done between meetings, on various issues, to ensure resolution when the issues arise, rather than waiting for them to be dealt with at the Committee meetings, thus ensuring that they were addressed in a timely manner.  This also ensured that the Committee had the time to focus on other priorities.

1. pandemic planning

The Committee was informed that The Security, Risk Management and Internal Affairs Directorate (SRMIAD) continues to monitor progress on the development of branch and regional pandemic annexes.  All regions have completed their Pandemic Annexes, and should complete their testing by early January 2008.  Planning for the Headquarters Branches is well underway and should be completed and tested no later than March 2008.

The issue was raised regarding the extent that the local Workplace Committees should be involved in the development, implementation and monitoring of the local Pandemic Plans.  The Committee agreed that this issue would be addressed in a separate ad-hoc meeting.

The Committee was also advised that the Pandemic Planning Working Group met on October 12, 2007, to review communication material and to discuss next steps.  The first phase of their Communication Plan was to review and finalize the influenza memo to all employees, which was distributed on December 12, 2007.  The next step would be to create signage.  To this end, a poster is being developed related to hand washing, which would be posted in all washrooms, as well as one identifying best practices related to influenza prevention, which would be posted in the general office area of all work locations.  The memorandum and posters would also be available on the OHS website under the Influenza heading.

2. JOB HAZARD ANALYSIS FOR FIELD EMPLOYEES

The Committee was reminded that there were no successful bids as a result of the second tendering process.  As a result, the Statement of Work has been updated based on the feedback of the Working Group, and should be reposted this month.

3. HAZARD PREVENTION PROGRAM REGULATION

The Committee was reminded that, at the meeting of September 7, 2007, the Working Group had identified the following 5 general categories of work environments that would be the primary targets for hazard assessments:

      • General Office environment;
      • Warehouses;
      • Mailrooms;
      • Mechanized distribution; and,
      • Call Centres.

The Committee was advised that these environment-specific assessments, which would be conducted at the corporate level since they would be applicable across the Agency, would cover most of the jobs in the CRA.  However, it was noted that environment-specific assessments would not be conducted for those jobs that would be included in the JHA for Field Employees. The Committee also discussed the possibility that there could be other environments that would require further consideration, such as Tax Centres. 

The Committee was given an overview of the proposed implementation plan for the CRA Hazard Prevention Program.  The plan included conducting a review and analysis of the Hazardous Occurrence Investigation Reports (T4009) on a national basis. This would be followed up by visiting an example of a site related to each of the 5 work environments, to validate the results of the assessment and to conduct onsite assessments to ensure nothing was overlooked.  Included in the assessments would be the review of preventative measures already in place, and the identification of any new preventive measures that could be considered national in scope.  This would lead to the creation of environment-specific “Model Work Assessments” that would include the appropriate corrective measures for any identified hazard.  Following the national review, the “Model Work Assessments” would be sent to the Regions for review and validation.  If necessary these generic assessments would be adjusted to address any issues that would be raised, and would then be redistributed to the regions for implementation.

The Committee was also reminded that training is an integral part of any Hazard Prevention Program, and was informed that OHS training sessions for managers and employees were now being rolled out to address the general requirement for employee education.  Additional work-specific training may be identified for certain environments, which would be included in the Model Work Assessments. 

The Committee agreed that the Working Group should proceed with the implementation of the Hazard Prevention Program, as outlined.

4. policy review

The Committee was advised that, further to the discussions at the May 31, 2007 NHSPC meeting, the Union Representatives have now completed their review and were now ready to proceed.  A meeting of the Working Group would be scheduled in the near future.

5. job hazard ANALYSIS RECOMMENDATIONS (common issues) / Agency ohs audit

The Committee was informed that the Working Group met on October 12, 2007 to discuss the status of the recommendations previously identified.  As of November 23, 2007, all but eight (8) recommendations have been finalized, and work on the remaining 8 issues was in progress  (Appendix A).

6. Presence of asbestos in cra buildings and hazardous material stored in cra facilities

The Committee was informed that Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) had provided a full list of CRA-occupied Crown-owned buildings where asbestos-containing material (asbestos) was present.  The listing described the location of the asbestos within the building and its condition, and provided confirmation that in all instances an Asbestos Management Plan existed. 

The Committee was advised that PWGSC does not have a central database of information about asbestos in buildings leased from the private sector.  However, all lease documents must contain clauses that require leased buildings to be free, and kept free, of hazardous friable asbestos material.  The private sector landlord must document this and put in place an acceptable asbestos management plan, which is provided to PWGSC and made available locally.

The Committee was advised that, as previously reported, there is no national registry of ‘hazardous materials’.  However, hazardous materials are catalogued in each building under the Workplace Hazardous Material Information System (WHMIS), and Materiel Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) were available.

It was also noted that it was still important that local Work Place Committees are aware of hazardous materials stored in CRA-occupied buildings (e.g. PCBs), in order that they could inspect the office and ensure that proper storage procedures exist.  It was agreed that the Finance and Administration Branch would follow-up on this issue with PWGSC, to see if this information could be made available on a national basis.

7. air quality survey – 875 heron road

A survey regarding the air quality at the Ottawa Technology Centre (OTC) (875 Heron Road), which had been initiated by the Union of Taxation Employees (UTE) at the local level, was presented to the Committee.  The Committee noted that this was a local issue that was still being addressed at that level.  The Committee was also informed that an agreement had been reached whereby an independent expert in the field of indoor air quality would be mutually selected by Management and the Unions to review previous air quality reports, conduct an on-site inspection, and to recommend a course of action in order to bring resolution to this issue.  Additional air testing would be conducted if required. 

It was also agreed that the local Work Place Committee should be reminded that they should use the referral process outlined in the Terms of Reference for the NHSPC when referring unresolved issues to the NHSPC.

8. laser printer emissions

The Committee was advised that on July 31, 2007 a CBC article reported that an Australian research team had authored a journal study that concluded that workers face a potential health threat from office laser printers that emit large amounts of tiny particles into the air.

The Workplace Health and Public Safety Program of Health Canada reviewed the Australian study and released its conclusion that there appeared to be no indication of any significant occupational hazard caused by particulate matter (including the ultra-fine fraction) emitted from commercially available laser printers.

A copy of the documentation was forwarded to the Union on November 26, 2007, and an overview was also shared with the Regional OHS Advisors on December 4, 2007.

CLOSING REMARKS

The Committee members were thanked for their valuable participation in addressing the agenda items, and for all the work that had gone into addressing all the issues that had been tackled this year. 

The Committee extended their thanks to Lina Ruel for all her valuable input to the Committee over the years, and wished her all the best on her upcoming retirement.

Wishes were extended for a happy holiday season.

Next year’s meetings are scheduled for: February 21st, May 22nd, September 4th and November 27th.

Original signed by___________ 

Lysanne Gauvin
Management Co-chair
National Health and Safety Policy Committee

February 18, 2008
Date

Original signed by_____________

Betty Bannon
Union Co-chair
National Health and Safety
Policy Committee

February 18, 2008
Date