Health and Safety Committee

Minutes of the National Health and Safety Policy Committee Meeting

February 6, 2003

DATE:     February 6, 2003   TIME:  1:30-4:45p.m.

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

ATTENDEES:

Management

Union

Dan Tucker (Co-Chair)

Denis Lefebvre

Jim Ralston

Jocelyn Malo

Patricia Ballantyne

Jean Laronde

Leon Page (Committee Secretary)

Greta Hill (Observer)

Betty Bannon (UTE) (Co-Chair)

Chris Aylward (UTE)

John King (CEUDA)

Réal Lamarche (PIPSC)

Marilyn White (PIPSC)

Laurel Randle (CEUDA Observer)

Martin Ranger (PIPSC Observer)

OPENING REMARKS

The Union Co-Chair welcomed the Committee members.  The Co-Chairs noted that progress had been made at previous meetings and some items had been closed out.  They expressed hope that the Committee would be successful in resolving a number of the issues on the agenda and in identifying others that required further consideration.

The Union Co-Chair expressed concern that the National Health and Safety Policy Committee (NHSPC) was not fulfilling its mandate, as it related to Committee members being provided with the opportunity to participate in the development of new policies, and the updating of existing ones.  This opinion was based on the lack of consultation on a number of recent health and safety issues.  During the meeting, some concrete examples would be provided to the Committee as specific agenda items were being discussed.  The Management Co-Chair acknowledged the important role of the Committee in dealing with health and safety issues and agreed that the issue of consultation should be discussed.

Further discussions led to agreement that there needed to be meaningful consultations on policies and that the consultation process could vary, depending on whether the subject matter was a new policy or updates to an existing one.  Nevertheless, it was agreed that the Committee would be advised well in advance and would be asked for their input during the early stages of development.  If deemed necessary, ad hoc meetings or working groups could be established to address specific issues, as has happened in the past.  Draft documents would be shared with Committee members early enough to allow adequate time to review it and discuss it at a subsequent meeting, if necessary.  As well, feedback would be provided to the various stakeholders on their input.

It was agreed that when there were restrictions on the sharing of draft documents, the Committee would discuss the extent that the documents could be shared outside the NHSPC Committee membership, given the need to seek certain expertise on specific issues.

The Committee agreed that in the future all policies (new or updated) relating to health and safety issues should be shared with the NHSPC for review prior to their release.

1.   AUDIT REPORT ON CCRA'S RESPONSE TO THE EVENTS OF SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 (SUMMARY OF INCIDENTS/ACTIONS - POST SEPTEMBER 11, 2001)

The Committee was advised that the Executive Emergency Management Steering Committee had held two meetings - November 6, 2002 and January 27, 2003.  During the second meeting, the members reviewed the recommendations contained in the Audit Report.  A presentation outlining the progress on those recommendations would be presented at the Policy and International Committee (PIC) in March 2003.

The Committee members were informed that a copy of the draft Emergency Management Policy would be distributed to them for comments.  It was confirmed that this draft policy was still in the early stages of development and that it would be discussed further at the next NHSPC meeting.

2. EMPLOYEES TRANSPORTING NEGOTIABLES

The Committee was informed that a memorandum had been sent to Regional Assistant Commissioners on January 17, 2003, reminding them of their responsibility to ensure that employees were aware of the procedures to be followed when transporting negotiables.  A copy of that memorandum had been provided to the Committee on February 4, 2003.  The memorandum also addressed the Security Directorate's plan to conduct threat and risk assessments at those locations where employees transport negotiables.  As part of the action plan, the Regions were to name a regional representative to work with the Security Directorate on this initiative.  A report detailing the findings of the threat and risk assessments would be completed within the next five months.  A progress report would be provided at subsequent meetings.

It was agreed that the Committee would be provided with information concerning the action plan, the methodology being used to conduct the risk assessments, and the names of the regional representatives who would be assisting the Security Directorate.

3. WORK PLACE COMMITTEE TRAINING

The Committee was advised that:  

  • The Work Place Committee training course was distributed to the regions on November 21, 2002;  
  • A memorandum dated December 4, 2002 was sent to Regional Assistant Commissioners advising that the Train-the-Trainer course would remain a national responsibility and therefore regional train-the-trainer sessions should not occur; 
  • The regions were asked to forward their regional Work Place Committee training plans to headquarters, ensuring that those committee members who were untrained would be given the highest priority; and  
  • The English Train-the-Trainer Session was currently taking place in Toronto and the French session would take place in Montreal in early March. 

The Committee was also informed that a further memorandum would be sent to Regional Assistant Commissioners reminding them of the need to prepare regional OHS training plans, which would be shared with the Committee.

4.  PHYSICAL STANDARDS STUDY

The Committee was informed that Management agreed with the conclusions contained in the Physical Standards Study conducted by Dr. Janice Deakin and that, over a period of time, they would incorporate a physical standard into the jobs of the customs inspectors and superintendents.  A copy of the report had been provided to the Employment Equity Section in September 2002 and would be posted on the Customs Human Resources website.

5.  WORKPLACE FITNESS PROGRAM

It was confirmed that a legal opinion stated that CCRA could be held liable for incidents/injuries related to employee-supplied equipment at CCRA facilities.  While a decision to remove this equipment had not yet been made, the Committee was informed that it might be necessary to do so at a later date.  Accordingly, a decision had been made that no new requests for employee supplied equipment at CCRA facilities would be approved.  The Unions requested a copy of the legal opinion and were informed that it is not normal practice for Management to share legal opinions with the Unions, due to Solicitor/Client Privilege.  Furthermore, the Unions acknowledged that it is not their practice to share legal opinions with Management.   

The Committee was informed that the Workplace Fitness Program Draft Operational Procedures and Implementation Guidelines would be tabled with the Committee during the next fiscal year, for consultation.  

The Committee was also informed that the issue of whether the employer would provide additional fitness facilities to assist employees in meeting and maintaining the level of fitness required for their job, as a result of the Physical Standards Study, would be addressed during consultation on that specific issue.  

6.  USE-OF-FORCE SKILLS TRAINING

The Committee was informed that the current Use of Force Training Program would be used as the physical standard for customs inspectors and superintendents.  The Officer Powers Transition Policy would be used to ensure that effective measures were in place to assist employees in meeting the required standard as well as to accommodate any employee(s) who, based on individual circumstances, would be unable to meet the standard.  All new recruits would be required to pass the Use of Force Training, as a condition of employment, in order to be appointed.

While there was a pass/fail component to the initial Use of Force Skills Training, there would be no pass/fail element for the skills maintenance (refresher) training.  However, it would be mandatory for customs inspectors to complete the three-day Use of Force skills maintenance course every three years.  It was noted that the skills maintenance course would be rolled out in the first quarter of the 2003-2004.

The Committee was informed that a great deal of work had gone into the development of the Use-of-Force Skills Training, and that steps were taken to ensure that it would be the best training available.  Committee members were encouraged to attend a training session as an observer, to better appreciate the professional level of this training.

Following extensive discussions, it was agreed that the Committee would be provided with clarification on the following:  

  • How employees would be informed of the new physical standard and transition period;
  • What would be done to help employees prepare so they would succeed on the training; and,  
  • What would be done to identify and assist employees who, for medical reasons, should not take the training.  

It was agreed that this would be further discussed at the next meeting.

The Committee was provided with updated information concerning the number of injuries reported and a breakdown by Region.  It was noted that the most frequent injuries were to the shoulders, neck and hands, followed by injuries to the knees, ankles, hips and back.  A more detailed breakdown of injury statistics would be provided at the next meeting.

In response to concerns about the availability of first-aid during training sessions, the Committee was assured that the Agency would meet its obligations.

7. CHEMICAL, BIOLOGICAL, RADIOLOGICAL, NUCLEAR AND EXPLOSIVE (CBRNE) AWARENESS SESSION  

This is one of the agenda items that had been identified at the outset of the meeting as an issue that should have come before the National Health and Safety Policy Committee prior to its implementation.  It was acknowledged that under normal circumstances this awareness session would have been developed in consultation with this Committee. 

The Committee was advised that work on the development of a CBRNE program to enhance the Agency's capacity to detect CBRNE threats was underway.  However, as a result of the recent escalation of international tensions, it was decided that the need to provide training immediately outweighed the need to follow the normal consultative process, prior to implementation.  Although CCRA employees were not first responders in the event of a CBRNE threat, it was important that they be made aware of the steps to take in the event that such an incident should occur, including contacting the designated first responders.

The initial steps included hiring a world-class expert to develop an action plan and a draft awareness package.  Consultation had taken place with various agencies and management representatives with the next steps being consultation with various stakeholders on the draft package.  However, given the escalation of international tensions, the Union was briefed on January 13, 2003 on the draft training course and provided with an explanation as to why the development of the program had been accelerated.  A copy of the draft training plan had been forwarded to the CEUDA National President on January 14, 2003.

The Committee was informed that all Customs Inspectors would receive the one-day CBRNE Awareness Training by March 31, 2003, with Marine, Air and

Postal being completed first, followed by Land Borders and Inland operations.  Committee members would receive a copy of the training material for their information.

The Union asked that a memorandum be sent to all employees since the roll-out of the training would not be completed until March 31, 2003.  The Committee was informed that on February 4, 2003 an e-mail had been sent to the CEUDA National President attaching a copy of a memorandum and deskdrop which would be issued to all Customs Inspectors and Superintendents informing them of the CBRNE Awareness Training.  

8. JOB HAZARD ANALYSIS  

The Draft Final Job Hazard Analysis for Customs Inspectors and Superintendents, had been provided to Committee members that morning.  As requested, an electronic copy of the Draft Final Report would be provided An ad hoc meeting would be organized, as soon as possible, to discuss the draft report.  ModuSpec and a representative from HRDC-Labour would be invited to attend the meeting.  

The Unions expressed their displeasure that the Minister had received a copy of the report prior to the members of the Committee, and had made a public announcement with regard to its implementation.

9. INCIDENT REPORTING  

The Committee was advised that the Customs Branch and the Security Directorate were preparing a memorandum and related guidelines on how to use the Customs and Security Incident Report Forms.  This joint effort would be completed by mid-March 2003.  An electronic copy of the two forms would be provided to Committee members.

The Committee was informed that, as a result of comments received during discussions at the November 19, 2002 meeting, the Customs report would contain two additional columns to record whether a weapon was used during an incident, and to record the responding agency's response time.  It was also confirmed that the number of injuries contained in the Customs Report represented the number of staff members injured, not the number of injuries sustained.

10.  PERSONAL ALARM SECURITY SYSTEMS (PASS)

The Committee was informed that work on the current system would continue, to ensure that all hardware was up-to-date.  The objective was to attempt to not have any equipment that would be more than two years old.  In addition, site-by-site analyses would continue, and where particular problems were identified (primarily "dead zones") they would be dealt with at the local level with the involvement of the local Work Place Committee.  The long-range plan to replace the current system remained under study.

11.  RADIATION - DOSIMETERS (X-RAY EQUIPMENT TRAINING)

The software required for reading and recording cumulative exposure from the radiation dosimeters was received in December 2002.  The field was instructed to have the reading of all individual dosimeters completed by the end of January 2003.  Scientists at the Laboratory and, the Scientific Services Directorate, would analyze these readings.  This data would be stored in a National Database and, subject to privacy considerations, would be made available to Customs Inspectors, local management and the Union, on a request basis.  The Committee was informed that, based on this information, it would no longer be necessary to request the assistance of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to provide interim assistance in the reading of individual dosimeters.

The Committee would be provided with a copy (English and French) of the deck used in the field for training on the use of dosimeter readers and related software. 

12.  EXAMINATION PROCEDURES IN MARINE CONTAINER VICINITY

The Committee was informed that procedures were being developed for the examination of containers on dock facilities.  These procedures would be included in the Enforcement Manual and distributed nationally.

A draft copy of the procedures would be provided to Committee members at the next meeting, for their review and comments.

13.    QUARANTINE TRAINING

The Committee was informed that comments had been received from the Unions and other stakeholders, including Health Canada, on the draft training package. The revised training package would be available for further consultation by April 30, 2003.

14.    SILENT HOURS

The current Policy on Access Control was being reviewed and consultation on the proposed revisions would take place.  A copy of the draft Policy would be provided to Committee members for their review prior to discussion at the next meeting.

CLOSING REMARKS

The Committee was informed that the interim policy on dealing with individuals who were the subject of an Armed and Dangerous Lookout would be placed on the agenda for discussion at the next meeting.  As well, it was agreed that the issue of granting CPIC access to customs inspectors at Primary and the use of atropine injectors would be agenda items for the next meeting.

The Co-chairs thanked the Committee members for their participation and noted that the next Committee meeting would take place on April 10, 2003.

Original signed by

D.G.J. Tucker

Management Co-chair

National Health and Safety Policy Committee

May 29, 2003   

Date

Original signed by

Betty Bannon

Union Co-chair

National Health and Safety Policy Committee

May 14, 2003  

Date