Health and Safety Committee

Minutes of the National Health and Safety Policy Committee Meeting

May 25, 2006

DATE: May 25, 2006 TIME: 1:30 pm-3:15 pm

LOCATION: 8th Floor Board Room, 200 Laurier Ave. W.

ATTENDEES: Management Union
 

James Ralston (Alternate Management Co-Chair)
Jocelyn Malo
Claude Tremblay
Jean Laronde
Leon Page (Committee Secretary)

Betty Bannon (Union Co-Chair)
Chris Aylward (UTE)
Marilyn White (PIPSC)
Harry Walker (PIPSC)
 

Observers:

Paul Bruce

Absent:

Lysanne Gauvin

OPENING REMARKS

The Management Co-Chair welcomed the Committee members to the meeting and noted that, since the last meeting, the CRA observed both the National Day of Mourning and North American Occupational Safety and Health Week.  The Unions indicated their discontent with the manner in which Management had dealt with their members’ requests for time off in order to attend events organized to observe the National Day of Mourning.  As a result, Management and the Union would meet with a view to addressing the Union’s concerns.

The Committee was advised that the Agency would be issuing a revision to Chapter 15 (Reporting of Security Incidents), and Chapter 26 (Abuse, Threats, Stalking and Assaults Against Employees), of the security manual.  The purpose of these revisions was to align these two chapters with the recent change in procedures for reporting threats against employees, outlined in the memorandum entitled “Threats Against Employees – 1-866 Line for Threat Reporting”, which was recently distributed to all employees.

1. JOB HAZARD analysis recommendations (common issues) / Agency OHS Audit 

The Committee was advised that the working group had approved the proposed priorities for the consolidated OHS Audit Action Plan and the JHA Common Issues Recommendations, on April 18, 2006, and that the listing was distributed to Committee members on May 10, 2006 (see Appendix A).

The Committee was also advised that all but one of the high priority items, as well as some of the medium priority items, were either in progress or completed.  The Committee would be kept apprised of the status of these items as work progresses on them, and Management and the Unions would work together on addressing the remainder of the recommendations.

It was agreed that this item would be placed in the “deferred” section of the agenda, to ensure that it isn’t overlooked, and that the Committee would deal with the individual issues as separate agenda items, as they progressed.

2. JOB HAZARD ANALYSES FOR FIELD EMPLOYEES

A draft milestones document was distributed to the Committee (see Appendix B), which was based on the timelines for the previous JHA for Customs Inspectors and Superintendents.

The Unions expressed concern regarding lack of progress on the JHA to date.  To address this concern, it was agreed that both Unions and Management could commence gathering information, to be presented to the consultant for consideration during the JHA.

3. WORK PLACE COMMITTEE TRAINING

The Committee was advised that the working group was nearing the completion of the updating of the course.  Extensive work had been undertaken in incorporating feedback received from the stakeholders, related to the existing training material.  The course material has been restructured to make it more engaging and interactive for the participants and the content has been presented in more user-friendly language, making it more interesting for both the instructor and the learner.

The Committee was informed that the revised course should be ready for roll-out in the fall.

4. HEALTH AND SAFETY AWARENESS TRAINING FOR EMPLOYEES

The Committee was advised that a significant amount of collaborative work has been done to identify the information that should be shared with employees.  At a meeting held on April 28, 2006 Management and Union representatives agreed on the final content of an awareness package. 

The working group would work with the Public Affairs Branch to determine the best method of communicating the information to employees.

The Committee would be kept apprised of the progress on this initiative and would be consulted on any decisions related to the method of communicating the information to employees.

5. PROTECTIVE FOOTWEAR ALLOWANCE

At the last NHSPC, the Committee agreed to work together to develop a communications package with respect to protective footwear, and to establish a maximum amount to reimburse employees who were required to wear protective footwear.  As a result, the amount for reimbursement was established at $145.00, and the communications package was finalized.  This information has been communicated to the regions, for distribution to all employees who were required to wear protective footwear.

6. PANDEMIC PLANNING

The Committee noted that the health and safety of employees was a top priority for the Agency, and as such, agreed that the first messaging to go out should address human resources issues.  The Committee was advised that, given the uncertainty of where a pandemic would start, how fast it would spread, and how many people could get sick, it was critical for the Agency to be as well prepared as possible.  As a result, it was agreed that Committee representatives would work together to identify potential scenarios that should be taken into consideration, based on their experience in dealing with SARS.  The Committee was informed that the Agency expected to deal with a Pandemic in a similar manner as it did with SARS (i.e. to follow the lead of Health Canada and the Treasury Board), to ensure consistency within the federal public service.

From an operational perspective, the Committee was advised that work would proceed on a business impact analysis of a potential pandemic on the CRA.  While the Agency has Business Continuity Plans (BCPs) in place, they are based on having to deal with the loss of a facility.  However, in the case of a pandemic, the building would remain intact but the Agency’s employee base could be severely affected, which would impact on our ability to deliver critical business functions.

The NHSPC was advised of a number of committees and working groups that the federal government has created to address the various aspects of pandemic planning.  The CRA was participating on two of these committees:

  • The Government Services group, which would deal with social and economic benefits payments and programs; Government banking; Government-wide services; services to other governments; and, communications (e.g., call centres); and

  • The Management of Government for Continuity group, which would address human resources issues.

The Unions identified Marilyn White to coordinate the Unions’ input on this issue.

7. OHS VIDEO

The Committee was advised that, based on comments received from participants during Work Place Committee Members training courses, the Agency planned to update the video, which would also be used in the OHS Awareness Session for Managers.

The Unions would identify someone to work with management on this project.

8. HAZARD PREVENTION PROGRAM REGULATION

Management expressed its thanks to UTE for the invitation to attend the PSAC presentation on the Hazard Prevention Program, which was made at the UTE President’s Conference on March 31, 2006.

To assist Committee members in understanding the Hazard Prevention Program Regulation, a joint union/management presentation was made (see Appendix C), providing an overview of the content of the regulation and its implications on the CRA.  The Committee was informed that the Agency would need to conduct a review to identify the gap between the existing OHS program and the requirements of the Hazard Prevention Program Regulation, and take the appropriate steps to address this gap. 

The Unions would identify a representative to work with management on this initiative.

9. PORTABLE DURESS ALARMS FOR SERVICE AGENTS

The Committee was informed that, as a result of the Unions raising a concern about the safety of CRA Service Agents who deal with the public, current procedures were reviewed to ensure that steps were being taken to protect the health and safety of service agents.

In order to ensure the safety of Service Agents, the Agency sent out a memo outlining the mandatory measures that managers must put in place to protect staff working in lobby areas.  These measures included reinforcing certain measures already in place.

In addition, one new measure was introduced that involved the provision of remote duress alarms that must be carried by the Service Agent.  This would let the service agents summon immediate assistance if they felt threatened by a client.

The remote duress alarm systems have been ordered for all offices where there were Service Agents, and rollout should be completed by the end of May 2006.

CLOSING REMARKS

The Committee members were thanked for their participation, and everyone was wished a safe and enjoyable summer. 

The next Committee meeting is scheduled for September 7, 2006.

Original signed by               

James Ralston
Alternate Management Co-chair
National Health and Safety Policy   Committee

July 27, 2006

Date

Original signed by

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

July 21, 2006                                    

Date