DATE: April 2, 2015 TIME: 1:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
LOCATION: 8th Floor Boardroom, 395 Terminal Avenue, Room 8070
|Absent||Dan Couture||Debbie Ferguson (UTE)|
|Secretary||Heather Di Penta|
Ms. Diane Lorenzato welcomed everyone to the first National Health and Safety Policy Committee (NHSPC) meeting of 2015. Ms. Lorenzato began by welcoming Ms. Johanne Bernard to her first NHSPC meeting since joining the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) on February 23 as Deputy Assistant Commissioner and Agency Comptroller in the Finance and Administration Branch (FAB). Before passing the floor to Mr. Doug Mason for opening remarks, Ms. Lorenzato recognized the important role the committee continues to play in advancing the Agency’s Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) program by addressing issues in an open and constructive way. Mr. Mason took the opportunity to highlight topics of interest including recent media coverage related to the CRA office located at 875 Heron Road as well as the policy review in relation to the prevention of workplace violence.
In response to concerns raised by the NHSPC regarding the presence of asbestos in new or retrofit sites where the CRA is a tenant, the committee was provided with an overview on the use of asbestos and discussed processes in place for monitoring and notification.
The NHSPC was informed that prior to the mid 1980’s, asbestos was widely used due to its useful properties of strength, flexibility, and resistance to both heat and chemical corrosion. Asbestos-Containing Materials (ACM) were commonly used in construction of houses, schools, hospitals, residential apartment complexes, libraries, office towers, etc.
The committee was advised that the use of ACM has significantly decreased since the negative health affects of asbestos became known. Its use is strictly controlled under the Asbestos Products Regulations (SOR/2007-260) which fall under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act. ACMs are to be used by qualified personnel, and installed in a controlled manner that does not pose any threat to the health of building occupants.
Building owners are required to identify ACMs in their building, in accordance with federal and provincial regulations, conduct periodic assessments of their condition, and either repair, encapsulate, or remove any ACMs found not to be in good condition. Corrective work is conducted by specialized trained technicians, who put a number of safeguards in place to ensure the continued health and safety of building occupants, as well as themselves.
In addition to the ongoing monitoring and management of ACMs, more specific surveys are conducted prior to any construction or renovation project to identify the presence of ACMs. Any ACMs present are treated by trained technicians in accordance with the applicable regulations throughout the project to ensure the continued safety of building occupants and technicians.
While ACMs may be present in buildings, its use and management is heavily regulated and controlled to ensure the health and safety of building occupants. Building owners must know where ACMs are located, and keep them in good condition.
In this regard, the NHSPC was reminded that on August 12, 2014, the list of CRA occupied buildings that contain asbestos was shared with members as part of an on-going commitment to ensure the NHSPC is aware of potential hazards.
The committee was informed that while property owners at the local level often share information on asbestos in varying formats and to varying degrees, the CRA is working to ensure that the local committees are appropriately and consistently informed.
Representatives from Finance and Administration Branch (FAB) informed committee members that the CRA will work with Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) over the coming months on their Service Level Agreement to ensure consistent and proactive sharing of information.
Under this agreement, PWGSC would update the list of CRA occupied buildings containing asbestos which would be shared with the NHSPC by the CRA on annual basis. A written summary update on the condition of ACMs in the building would also be provided to the local committees. The local committees would be required to reflect the provision and review of the information in their meeting minutes. Finally, should the local workplace health and safety committee request the report, PWGSC would ensure that it be made available.
While employee representatives raised concerns regarding the continued presence of asbestos in CRA occupied facilities, it was agreed by all that positive steps are being taken to ensure the proactive sharing of information.
Committee members agreed that the CRA would finalize the information bulletin regarding the sharing of OHS related information with local committees on a priority basis, and would provide final version to the employee representatives and issue the document.
Also, it was agreed that the CRA would continue to keep the committee apprised of any developments in relation to the ongoing investigation by ESDC into the CRA facility at 875 Heron Road.
Finally, at the suggestion of employee representatives, it was agreed that information on InfoZone related to ACMs would be reviewed to ensure that is easily accessible.
2. Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (AVC) AND Directions
The NHSPC was advised that the appeal dates responding to the Letter of Direction issued to the Paul Martin Building in Windsor have been set for April 27th to May 1, 2015. In the interim, given that appeal dates have been confirmed, the committee was informed that the stay of the direction will continue to apply until the Tribunal has issued their response.
The employee representatives reiterated their concerns regarding the condition of the site as well as the lack of information regarding long term plans for the Paul Martin Building and its impact on employees. The committee was advised that the CRA will continue to work with PWGSC and will share information on future plans as soon as it becomes available.
The committee was also advised that the CRA received a Letter of Direction on February 25th for the office located in Kitchener, Ontario requiring the Agency to appoint a competent person to investigate a complaint of alleged workplace violence.
Committee members were informed that while the CRA had already appointed a competent person prior to the Letter of Direction, the complainant raised concerns regarding their impartiality. A subsequent name was put forward and accepted by the complainant. Following the response which was provided to the Health and Safety Officer (HSO) on March 11, 2015, the HSO has confirmed that the CRA has met the requirements of the Direction. As a result, the Direction notice has been removed.
The NHSPC was informed that on April 1, preliminary discussions took place between the National OHS Section and employee representatives regarding the ongoing review of the Prevention of Workplace Violence procedures. Committee members recognized the importance of moving forward with the review of the Workplace Violence Prevention procedures on a priority basis. It was agreed that both sides would work together and would consider the addition of tools or resources to assist managers in addressing a complaint related to alleged workplace violence. It was agreed that Debbie Ferguson, Harry Walker and Andrea Holmes from the employee representatives would aid the National OHS section with the review.
3. CRA OHS PROGRAM
The NHSPC was informed that the webinars for the Ergonomic Coaches have been completed. Two hundred and fifty or 61% of the Ergonomic Coaches participated in the webinars. Great feedback was received which the National OHS Section is currently reviewing to determine if any changes are needed to the current documentation, including the Ergonomic web site.
Ergonomic Services Request for proposal
The committee was informed that a Request for Proposal (RFP) for Ergonomic Services was issued in December 2014. A team made up of employer and employee representatives evaluated proposals in February and March while the contract for the external supplier of ergonomic services is scheduled to be awarded in June 2015. Enhancements to the Ergonomic Program, including any updates resulting from webinar feedback and stakeholder discussions, will be implemented to coincide with the start of the new contract, where possible.
An InfoZone slider was posted on February 25, 2015, to bring attention to Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) Awareness Day and to encourage people to go to the KnowHow Ergonomics site for more information on preventing RSIs and musculoskeletal injures (MSIs).
While the review of the different “Other” categories continues, several major issues have been identified to date including:
- A lack of understanding of the difference between minor injuries, disabling injuries and other;
- Questions which are not always clear; and
- Users who may be selecting “Other” without reading all available options.
As part of next steps, the National OHS section will be seeking to organize a separate meeting to discuss options for moving forward.
The Multiple Environment Job Hazard Analysis (MEJHA) Working Group met on February 10, 2015, to discuss updates for the Working Plan 2014-2015 and the development and implementation of the Standards, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and Standard Work Procedures (SWPs).
All Corporate Policy Instrument documentation for addressing the hazards identified as high risks has been completed by the Working Group. The documentation has been sent to the Office of Primary Interest for approval. Once the documentation is approved, the training phase will begin on all the SOPs and SWPs. HRB and FAB had a discussion with Training and Learning Directorate to add a course code into CAS for all the upcoming training on the SOPs and SWPs.
As FAB has a national contract for the Powered Lift Truck (PLT) training, a course code has been added in the system for the PLT Operator Certification to ensure that all operators who take this training are registered in CAS.
A full review of all hazardous substances used by employees in the course of their work is ongoing. Once completed, HRB will compile and combine all the products listed from the other branches and a database of all approved products will be developed and posted on InfoZone.
In addition to this work, the Working Group will review the existing Hazardous Substances Policy and will update it to develop a Hazardous Substances SOP. It will be aligned with the new Globally Harmonized System (GHS), also known as WHMIS 2015, requirements.
As part of the communication materials related to North American Occupational Health and Safety week in May, the update to the regulations will be noted and employees reminded to follow labels on products closely. Also, employees will be reminded not to bring chemical products such as cleaning solutions into the work place. National procurement, real property and administration and logistics functions have been notified of the regulatory change.
Representatives from the National OHS and procurement sections will work together to create a notice to the procurement representatives overseeing acquisition card purchases highlighting that chemical products should not be purchased if they are not a requirement for the work, and that any products purchased will need to meet the new labelling requirements.
The next step for the MEJHA Working Group will be to have the branches implement the new procedures and monitor compliance on the requirements outlined in the Standards, SOPs and SWPs. Additional monitoring will be conducted by the OHS Section in keeping with OHS Program requirements.
Following the update, the employee representatives highlighted certain topics which they would like to have added to the committee’s forward agenda including; the extreme weather policy and guidelines as well as environmental sensitivities or more specifically the possibility of a scent policy.
As a follow up to the discussion at the December 4, 2014 NHSPC meeting, it was also agreed that Marc Brière would act as the employee representative on the threat mitigation framework working group.
4. work place health and safety committee effectiveness
Work Place Committee Scorecard
The NHSPC was advised that the results of the year-end Scorecard are currently being finalized and will be shared with the committee once completed. The final Scorecard Working Group Report was shared with the Employee Co-Chair on March 9, 2015. Pursuant to one of the recommendations in this report, the National OHS Section is currently working with the Public Affairs Branch on a national communications campaign for the 2015 North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week. The goal of the campaign will be to increase the visibility of health and safety committees (HSC) and health and safety representatives (HSR) by highlighting their work.
Work Place Committee Training Initiative
The committee was informed that the development of the e-learning portion of the training is progressing well, and portions of it have been shared with the employee representatives. A pilot is scheduled for the first week of June. The committee agreed upon an approach to gather committee member’s input on the course.
The National OHS Section continues to develop the in-class portion of the course.
Work Place Committee Newsletter
The next WPHSC newsletter will be published in April 2015, and will cover such topics as North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week 2015, personal protective equipment, the National Day of Mourning, maintaining the OHS Reports application, loading dock safety, and the Ergonomic Coach Program in the Quebec Region. Finally, the new CRA Occupational Health and Safety Officers will also be introduced.
The Appendix A has been migrated to an online application and will now be called OHS Reports. This online application was launched in January 2015. The National OHS section is currently working to get the last remaining health and safety committees and the health and safety representatives organized in the system.
This system will allow for closer monitoring of the activities of the committees and representatives to ensure ongoing compliance with legislated responsibilities.
In addition, communication will be shared with the committees emphasizing the importance of recording critical actions and activities in their monthly minutes. This includes any review of supplied documentation (e.g. inspection reports, etc.), presentations made to the committees, or external expertise sought to advise the committee. A draft of this communication will be shared with the NHSPC once it is ready.
5. EMERGENCY DRILL REQUIREMENTS
The NHSPC was provided with an overview of the implementation of the enhanced drill requirements at the Agency. The committee was informed that starting in 2014-2015, using a 3 year phased approach, the Agency launched an initiative to enhance emergency drill requirements (EDR) in all CRA buildings to 4 emergency drills per year and 6 Building Emergency Organization (BEO) meetings per year.
In 2014-2015, the implementation was limited to high-rise buildings where the Agency is a major or sole tenant. The gradual release approach provided the opportunity to pilot the enhanced process and tools during the first year with experienced BEOs, while effectively managing impacts on minor tenant and low rise buildings by ensuring the enhanced requirements are slowly integrated and resources are planned for accordingly.
To facilitate the deployment of the initiative, exercise packages and a drill calendar were developed with feedback from the Committee. The mandatory drill calendar includes, at a minimum, two drills involving full evacuation and is flexible to account for the varied threat environments across the organization. This not only demonstrates CRA’s compliance with legislated requirements, but goes above the minimum requirement of one full scale evacuation per year in all Government of Canada occupied buildings.
As the pilot year draws to a close, a review of resource impacts (direct and indirect), challenges and opportunities for improvements is underway by FAB and will be presented to the Security and Emergency Management Committee (SEMC) for decision.
The review will also be informed by broad consultations with national stakeholders, as well as data captured throughout the year through structured feedback channels.
So far, feedback from stakeholders has been positive with minor concerns being raised regarding resource impacts and working relationships with property management and co-tenants. Based on the review, the initiative will be re-evaluated by SEMC and implementation targets for year 2 and year 3 will be confirmed.
In addition to the EDR, FAB continues to support and monitor the establishment of BEOs and the conduct of fire drills in CRA buildings. Compliance reports are provided to all Responsible Building Authorities (RBAs) quarterly and great progress has been made in meeting compliance rates.
In 2014-2015, the Agency developed emergency response and fire safety plans in all 93 locations where the CRA is responsible for the administration of these plans. The Agency conducted at least one annual fire drill in 97% (or 68 out of 70) of the non-EDR locations required to complete annual evacuation exercises.
The two (2) Agency remaining sites were acquired in the last quarter of 2014-2015 and fire drills will be conducted as soon as the building emergency organizations have been established, equipped, and trained in their roles and responsibilities. Those sites will also be subject to the EDR initiative in 2015-2016.
The CRA will ensure that the NHSPC is kept apprised during the implementation of phase two of the EDR initiative in 2015-2016, including any changes to the planned approach to implementation.
6. PSYCHOLOGICAL STANDARD
The NHSPC was informed of the progress on the Gap Analysis Project. Stakeholder interviews at the local, regional and corporate levels have been completed throughout the Agency. Interviews with Union representatives also took place to ensure all perspectives were documented. An update was shared electronically with the NHSPC Working Group on February 6, 2015 as a face to face meeting was not possible due to scheduling conflicts.
The committee was advised that while the data gathering exercise took longer than expected, the project continues to progress and that the information is being consolidated. The committee was informed that going forward the working group would be lead by Lucie Houle and Josée Lovett of the Workplace Relations and Compensation Directorate.
As the compilation of information is currently underway, it was agreed that an update would be provided to the Working Group in June.
Statistics for Health and Safety Training
As of January 13, 2015, 1072 employees and 510 managers require Health and Safety training. The latest statistics confirm that the percentage of employees who have completed the OHS training remains at 97%. Reductions were noted in most regions, except in Atlantic and Pacific, where there were slight increases. All regions continue to work on improving their training numbers.
The January 2015 statistics for Health and Safety manager training show that the number of untrained managers has decreased nationally from 10% to 9%. In most regions, there has been a substantial improvement in the number of untrained managers. Headquarters is the only region that had an increase of 42 untrained managers. Further analysis confirmed that there was an increase of 60 managers in the HQ region since the last report, which may explain this increase.
Work Place Violence Prevention Training
At a national level, the number of employees trained in Workplace Violence Prevention continues to improve. Overall, 93% of employees nationally have been trained in this course. Since October 2014, all regions have reduced the number of employees not trained. The statistics have confirmed that there is a consistent improvement on a quarterly basis with the number of employees who have completed the Workplace Violence Prevention training.
The National OHS Section has distributed the training statistics to each region to ensure progress is tracked and reinforce the importance of a communication strategy to target areas where improvements must be made. The employee representatives raised the issue of retraining and it was decided that the National OHS section would review the requirements outlined in the regulation and get back to the committee with a suggested approach.
Occupational Health and Safety Communication Plan
The Committee was provided with an update on the national OHS Communication Plan for 2015-2016. A variety of OHS messaging has been issued from January 2015 to April 2015, including the WPHSC winter newsletter, the Repetitive Strain Injury Awareness Day communication and the Heart Month communiqué.
The committee was also informed that the National Day of Mourning communiqué was prepared and would be sent to the Public Affairs Branch to be issued prior to the end of April. The employee representatives requested that an all staff communication be added to the Communication Plan for influenza prevention.
This communication campaign promotes OHS awareness and supports the Agency’s OHS Program.
Quarterly Security Incident Reports
The Employee Co-Chair was provided with the Quarterly Security Incident Reports for October to December 2014. The reports were validated and made available to regional OHS representatives and the WPHSCs upon request.
The Employee Co-Chair emphasized that the reports were clear and complete.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Ms. Lorenzato took the opportunity to highlight the deliverables arising from the meeting as well as items to be added to the forward agenda. The committee was advised that the National OHS section continues to work on the topics for the upcoming June meeting including the Ergonomic Risks associated with Sitting as well as the use of Prescription Medication while at work.