Health and Safety Committee

Minutes of the National Health and Safety Policy Committee Meeting

June 4, 2015

DATE:                    June 4, 2015                                 TIME: 1:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
LOCATION:          8th Floor Boardroom, 395 Terminal Avenue, Room 8070

ATTENDEES:

Employer Representatives

Employee Representatives

Members

Diane Lorenzato
(Employer Co-Chair)
Johanne Bernard
Robert Allen

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

Absent

Claude Tremblay
Dana-Lynne Hills

Marc Brière (UTE)

Secretary

Heather DiPenta

Observers

Dan Couture
David Walsh
Lauren Jolly

Simon Ferrand (PIPSC)
Andrea Holmes (UTE)

OPENING REMARKS

Ms. Lorenzato welcomed committee members to the final meeting prior to the summer vacation period. Ms. Lorenzato began by informing members that Ms. Dana-Lynne Hills joined the Agency on May 4, 2015 as Director General, Security and Internal Affairs Directorate in the Finance and Administrative Branch (FAB) and would be joining the committee going forward.

Ms. Lorenzato referenced changes that were introduced as a result of Budget 2015 and Bill C-59, as they relate to the Canada Labour Code, Part II and the Labour Program. Within Budget 2015, it was noted that 10 additional resources will be added to the Labour Program to support their OHS monitoring efforts. Ms. Lorenzato highlighted that the CRA has been monitoring a number of aspects related to the OHS Program such as committee activities and training results and that these efforts would continue.

The committee was advised that the CRA plans on further enhancing monitoring efforts following the implementation of new instructional documents, standard operating procedures (SOP), and data gathering tools. Ms. Lorenzato emphasized that the committee will continue to be consulted in reviewing the results and making recommendations towards continuous improvement.

Ms. Lorenzato also informed members that the Canada Labour Code, section 123, is being amended to recognize interns, who are not employees, but who perform for an employer activities whose primary purpose is to enable the person to acquire knowledge or experience. This change will therefore have the Canada Labour Code provisions apply to interns.

It was also noted that modernizing the Government Employees Compensation Act to simplify and accelerate claims processing and clarify coverage was also included in Budget 2015.

Finally, prior to passing the floor to Mr. Mason to chair the meeting, Ms. Lorenzato advised the National Health and Safety Policy Committee (NHSPC) that the CRA is currently looking at the topic of virtual work and assured the committee that health and safety aspects would be considered carefully.

1.    Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (AVC) AND Directions

The committee was provided with an update on the Letter of Direction which was issued on June 10, 2014 to the CRA office located at 185 Ouellette Avenue. Members were advised that on April 23, 2015, the Health and Safety Officer (HSO) became satisfied with the information and documentation that had been provided to her by Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) and determined that the condition that existed on June 10, 2014 that constituted a danger was no longer in place. The CRA received written authorization from the HSO that the danger tags on the Ouellette St. and Northeast Pitt St. doors could be removed and this was actioned.

On April 24, the local office, including the local health and safety committee, were informed of the decision by the HSO. The committee was advised that there are no immediate plans to allow employee access to the previously restricted zones or to allow employees to use the main front doors at 185 Ouellette Avenue as a regular entrance and exit point to and from the building. Further to this, on May 8, 2015 PWGSC announced that funding would be allocated to the repair of the limestone façade with a summer 2016 completion date.

Members were advised that on June 3, a town hall was held for employees located at 185 Ouellette and PWGSC representatives were present to answer questions related to the repairs that would take place.

The employee representatives expressed concern regarding the condition of the Paul Martin Building and highlighted that a complaint had been filed with the local health and safety committee. Employee representatives asked that the committee consider the possibility of having an independent engineer examine the condition of the building. It was agreed that the CRA would consider the request and get back to the committee.

Finally, the NHSPC was advised that no new AVCs or directions had been received since the last meeting.

2. CRA OHS PROGRAM

Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Officers

The NHSPC was advised that the National OHS Section added six new Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Officers that will report nationally but are situated in each region. The new roles will take the lead for OHS-related matters from the workplace relations centers of expertise.

The role of the officers will be to provide advice and guidance to managers, employees and health and safety committees (HSC) and representatives (HSR), and respond to OHS questions from clients. They will also support a standardized implementation of the OHS Program in the regions, including overseeing the ergonomic coaches, HSCs and HSRs membership and training, Work Site First Aid and AED Coordinators, etc. They will also visit each location and conduct health and safety monitoring activities and will provide support to the workplace relations centers of expertise.

The new officers are:

  • Andrew Sutherland (Pacific Region);
  • Shannon Turnley (Prairie Region);
  • Kavitharan Tharumakulasingam (Ontario Region);
  • Amaya Saenz (Quebec Region); and
  • Kathryn Langdon-Burton (Atlantic Region).

Members were advised that a selection process is underway for the HQ Region and that the committee would be informed once the individual was hired.

Ergonomic Strategy

The NHSPC was advised that a GCconnex group has been created for CRA ergonomic coaches. Invitations to join the group were sent on May 26, 2015.

It was confirmed that the contract for the external supplier of ergonomic services was awarded May 29, 2015 to Workplace Health and Cost Solutions and Debbie Ferguson was thanked for her participation in the bid evaluation process.

The NHSPC was advised that updates to the Ergonomic Strategy were communicated with employee representatives on May 4, 2015, and further discussed on May 14. Enhancements to the Ergonomic Program will include:

  • raising the visibility of the ergonomic coach program by creating an ergonomic coach “brand” through the addition of a new ergonomic coach image on the Ergonomic web pages;
  • establishing an organized structure for ergonomic coaches per site similar to the Work Site First Aid and AED coordinator role;
  • strengthening working relationships with the HSC and the HSR and ergonomic coaches;
  • addressing regional issues such as having enough trained coaches in certain regions; and
  • clarifying the scope of the ergonomic coach to ensure that any interventions that could impact an employee who may be suffering from a moderate to severe musculoskeletal injury are addressed accordingly (e.g. refer to external provider).

User acceptance testing of the online ergonomic coach tool is ongoing with the  roll-out of the tool scheduled for summer 2015.

The committee was informed that the National OHS Section is working with KnowHow developers to create some information on musculoskeletal injury (MSI) awareness to be incorporated into the existing KnowHow ergonomic pages.

During the webinars, ergonomic coaches were also encouraged to contact their local HSCs to find out about opportunities to participate in local North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week activities to raise awareness of the online self adjustment tools.

T4009

The analysis of the T4009 “Other” categories has been completed and an initial discussion with employee representatives was held on May 14, 2015, to discuss the findings. It was decided that an update to the T4009 website landing page would be made to help address the improper classification of reports. A draft of the content for the website was shared with the employee representatives for input on May 25, 2015. The committee was advised that the National OHS Section is looking at the possibility of developing job aids should there be a gap in updating the technology. At the suggestion of the employee representatives, it was agreed that the National OHS Section would look for a way to make the form more easily accessible.

Policy Instruments

The NHSPC was advised that 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 safe work procedures (SWP). The next step for the Multiple Environment Job Hazard Analysis (MEJHA) Working Group will be to have the branches implement all of the new procedures which are applicable to them and ensure compliance to the requirements outlined in the standards, SOPs and SWPs.

The Human Resources Branch (HRB) and FAB are working together to develop the Working in Loading Dock Areas SOP. It was shared with the MEJHA Working Group for consultation on May 14, with feedback due by June 4, 2015.

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, HRB is drafting the Hazardous Substances SOP, which will be aligned with the new Globally Harmonized System (GHS), also known as WHMIS 2015, requirements. A draft will be shared with the Working Group as soon as it is ready.

The employee representatives raised some concerns regarding the policy structure for Occupational Health and Safety and it was agreed that these issues could be discussed in a separate meeting.

With regards to the Psychological Standard, the NHSPC was advised that employee and management representatives met on June 3 to review the results of initial consultations with the various stakeholders throughout the Agency. The next phase will be to review the results of the Public Service Employee Survey. It was agreed that an update, if available, would be provided to the committee in September.

Members were provided with an update on the Procedures for the Prevention of Workplace Violence. The NHSPC was informed that the National OHS Section had consulted various government departments to review current practices and that a meeting would be scheduled for June 23 to discuss the findings.

Finally, employee representatives informed the committee that due to certain content being excluded from the draft information bulletin on the sharing of information between Real Property and local health and safety committees, PIPSC and UTE would be issuing their own communication to employees.

3. work place health and safety committee effectiveness

Work Place Committee Scorecard

The latest scorecard numbers were shared with the NHSPC. The numbers show improvement over last year. Members were informed that the new Occupational Health and Safety Reports Portal would assist the OHS Officers to closely monitor the completion of the monthly reports.

Following a discussion of the results, it was agreed that the National OHS Section would create a communication to be sent on behalf of the NHSPC co-chairs to follow up with regions where the results did not meet requirements. It was also agreed that the National OHS Section would add a column to the scorecard to capture the requirement for HSCs to discuss Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) in sites where it is applicable. The employee representatives requested that this topic be added to a future edition of the newsletter to raise awareness with the local committees.

NAOSH Week took place the week of May 4 to 8. Several messages targeting various groups, including employees, managers and committee members, were shared and can be seen on the NAOSH Week portion of the OHS website.

This year’s theme was “Make Safety a Habit: For Your Career” and the main focus was the committees, thanking them and highlighting the work they do. Employees were also encouraged to join their local committee.

Work Place Committee Training Initiative

Units 3 and 4 of the online course were shared with the Working Group members on May 4. The pilot for the online course is tentatively scheduled from June 9 to 11. Based on the feedback, the National OHS Section will ensure any necessary changes are made to the product with a targeted fall launch of this portion of the course. The NHSPC was advised that work continues on updating the in-class portion of the course.

Following a brief discussion on the delivery of training by the Canada School of the Public Service it was agreed that the topic would be added to the committee’s forward agenda.

Work Place Committee Newsletter

The spring edition of the Health and Safety Committee newsletter was issued on April 29, 2015. The next edition will be released in July.

4. HEALTH CONCERNS ASSOCIATED WITH SITTING FOR EXTENDED PERIODS

Members were provided with an update on the research into the health concerns associated with sitting for extended periods.

At the request of the NHSPC, the National OHS Section undertook a review of news articles, in conjunction with a review of various scientific and academic sources, such as the Public Health Agency of Canada, Association of Canadian Ergonomists, participACTION, and the Mayo Clinic.

The National OHS Section also consulted the Real Property and Service Integration Directorate and the Contracting Division. Initially, a concern was raised that the focus of the information to be shared with employees could have an impact on furniture expenditures.

Based on research and consultation, the National OHS Section determined that the topic needed to focus on encouraging readers to be more active and less sedentary, and that this was an overall health issue and not really an ergonomic issue.

The NHSPC was advised that a draft information bulletin was prepared that gives employees ideas on how to incorporate movement into all aspects of their day, including time spent at work. The bulletin was shared with the employee representatives for feedback on May 21, 2015.

Following a review of their feedback, the document will be translated and posted on the OHS website.

5. PRESCRIPTION MEDICATION AND EMPLOYEE SAFETY

Following a request by the NHSPC, the National OHS Section provided committee members with the results of their review of CRA’s current process related to prescription medication and employee safety.

Following research, prescription medication was expanded to include both medication prescribed by a licenced physician and medication obtained over-the-counter, as both have the ability to cause physical and mental impairment which can lead to an increased risk of injury in the work place.

The committee was informed that following a review of existing procedures it was determined that the CRA’s current injury and illness process provides direction to both managers and employees. The injury and illness process outlines the process for identifying medical limitations and restrictions, including those caused by the use of medication or those where medication is part of a treatment regime.

Managers are urged to contact their local Labour Relations Advisor both early on and throughout the process for advice and guidance. Since each situation or accommodation requirement is unique, they must be treated on a case-by-case basis.

The new Powered Lift Truck (PLT) SOP also outlines the expectations of employees, supervisors and managers for the safe operation of PLTs. Employees are responsible for informing their Operations Supervisor if their medical condition could affect their ability to safely operate a PLT, while supervisors are required to take action to correct any unsafe condition they may come across.

In addition, the NHSPC was advised that the CRA is also taking steps to educate employees by adding a statement to the Code of Ethics and Conduct that will address the subject of medication and employee safety. This update is anticipated for December 2015. New employees will certify to abide by the Code when they sign their letter of offer while current employees will affirm to abide by these conditions when they review their obligations annually.

Based on the review of the processes and procedures currently in place, and those which will be implemented in the near future, the committee agreed that employees and managers are well-positioned to address any potential issues.

WRITTEN UPDATES

Statistics for Health and Safety Training

As of April 28, the number of employees requiring health and safety training increased by 255 overall, representing a 1% increase in untrained employees since January. However, the total number of employees increased by 1,961 (5.5%) nationally during the same period. As of April 2015, the percentage of employees who have completed the OHS training was 96%. Increases in untrained employees were noted in most regions, except in Atlantic and Headquarters, where there were decreases. This may be attributed to the influx of determinate employees that occurred in most regions since January, likely as a result of tax filing season. Following discussion, it was agreed that going forward, prior year’s national data would be added to the report for comparison purposes.

The April 2015 statistics for Health and Safety training for managers shows that the number of untrained managers has decreased nationally from 9% to 8%. Headquarters, Ontario and Québec saw improvements in the number of untrained managers; whereas Atlantic, Pacific and Prairie had slight increases in the number of untrained managers. Overall, the national trend remains positive.

Work Place Violence Prevention Training

Members were advised that at a national level, the number of employees and managers trained in Workplace Violence Prevention continues to improve. Overall, 94% of employees and managers have been trained in this course, which is a 1% improvement since January 2015. The statistics show a consistent decline in the number of untrained employees and managers on a quarterly basis for most regions, with the exception of Ontario and Pacific for April 2015. This increase may be attributed to the influx of almost 300 determinate employees and students (34%) since January 2015.

Following discussion of the results, it was agreed that the National OHS Section would continue to look into a standardized on-boarding approach as well as the possibility of a training reminder during the ILP period to ensure compliance with OHS training requirements. Procedures need to be put in place to track when Work Place Violence Prevention training is taken as all employees are to be trained at least every three years, as per section 20.10 of the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations.

Finally, committee members were advised that the National OHS Section had 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.

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 was issued from April 2015 to June 2015, including the National Day of Mourning communiqué, National Occupational Safety and Health Week messaging, and the committee newsletter.

Quarterly Security Incident Reports

The Employee Co-Chair was provided with the Quarterly Security Incident Reports for January to March 2015. Following discussion of the results, the National OHS Section committed to ensuring that that the quarterly reports would be shared with the local health and safety committees.

CLOSING REMARKS

At the suggestion of employee representatives, it was agreed that the issue of Emergency Medical Assistance would be added to the forward agenda. Ms. Lorenzato took the opportunity to wish members a safe holiday season and reminded the committee of the next meeting on September 3, 2015.

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

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

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