Health and Safety Committee

Minutes of the National Health and Safety Policy Committee Meeting

September 3, 2015

DATE:                    September 3, 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
Claude Tremblay
Dana-Lynne Hills

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

Absent

Robert Allen

 

Secretary

Heather DiPenta

Observers

Dan Couture
David Walsh
Nathalie Plante

Simon Ferrand (PIPSC)
Andrea Holmes (UTE)

Guests

Jaime Robinson
Lauren Jolly

 

OPENING REMARKS

Ms. Lorenzato welcomed committee members to the third meeting of 2015 and took the opportunity to congratulate Mr. Doug Mason on his election as President of the AFS group. Mr. Mason confirmed that he would remain in the position of co-chair for the National Health and Safety Policy Committee (NHSPC) while also assuming his new role.

Ms. Lorenzato also welcomed Ms. Dana-Lynne Hills to her first NHSPC meeting. Ms. Hills joined the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) on May 4, 2015 as Director General of the Security and Internal Affairs Directorate of the Finance and Administration Branch. 

Prior to proceeding with the agenda, Mr. Mason expressed that he was looking forward to continuing work on the Procedures for Resolving Incidents Workplace Violence. He noted that although progress is being made, the employee representatives still had concerns related to cases that were ongoing.

1.    Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (AVC) AND Directions

The NHSPC was advised that the CRA had not received an AVC or Direction since June 2015.

As a follow up to June’s meeting, members were provided with a brief update on recent developments concerning the Paul Martin Building in Windsor Ontario. The NHSPC was informed that during the week of August 10, 2015, employees were advised that the Treasury Board Secretariat had approved the sale of the Paul Martin Building to the City of Windsor for $1. Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) confirmed that repairs to the façade of the Paul Martin Building will continue as planned, with an anticipated spring 2016 completion date. Employees located at the Paul Martin Building will remain at that location until new accommodation is secured. PWGSC will seek approval to renovate the Government of Canada Building at 441/467 University Ave, with an estimated in-service date of late 2017. CRA has committed to keeping employees informed as more information becomes available.

The employee representatives reiterated their request to have national CRA management support the Windsor Occupational Health Safety (OHS) Committee’s request for an independent engineering report on the Paul Martin Building. The CRA confirmed that it had requested that the PWGSC, as per its mandate, continue to hire the appropriate engineering expertise, as these firms are bound by their own professional associations and, as such, are considered to be acting independently. Regular inspections of the building’s façade will continue to take place. The CRA confirmed that this same response was also provided to the local committee.

2. CRA OHS PROGRAM

Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Officers

Committee members were informed that all regions are now staffed with an Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) officer. Francine Morse accepted a temporary promotion and will be the OHS officer for the Headquarters Region.

The OHS officers continue to integrate into their respective regions and are actively providing advice and guidance. They have been responding to OHS questions from clients via the HR Service Center. The NHSPC was advised that in September, they will be visiting some of the offices in their respective regions to meet the local committees and tour the facilities.

Ergonomic Strategy

User acceptance testing of the online Ergonomic Coach tool was completed in June and was rolled out to all ergonomic coaches on July 14, 2015.

The KnowHow content related to musculoskeletal injury (MSI) awareness was updated based on the feedback from the employee representatives over the summer and will be launched this fall. It was confirmed that the final content would be shared with the NHSPC prior to release.

T4009

Further to initial discussions which took place with the employee representatives in May, the T4009 landing page was updated on July 27, 2015. On July 30, 2015 the “Other” category was removed from the “injury/incident” type drop down menu. In its place, “Emergency Services” (for recording when an ambulance or other emergency services are called) and “Near Miss” were added. 

A link to “Report a workplace accident or hazard” was added to the main page of the newly launched MyHR site, as well as the Health, Safety and Wellness section of MyHR. It is believed that reporting will be more client-focused and efficient as a result of these changes.

At the suggestion of the employee representatives, it was agreed that the National OHS Section would explore options for ensuring that sensitive information is reported “off-line” through a paper copy of the T4009 by including the information in an upcoming edition of the newsletter.

Policy Instruments

The final versions of all Multiple Environment Job Hazard Analysis (MEJHA) documentation were sent to the working group on July 15, 2015. Feedback was received from stakeholders by July 31, 2015 and suggested changes have been incorporated.

An update on the status of the various standard operating procedures (SOP) and standard work procedures (SWP) has been shared with the employee representatives of the Policy Review Working Group. Once the documentation is approved, the training phase will begin on all the SOPs and SWPs. The next step for the MEJHA Working Group will be to have the branches implement all of the new SOPs which are applicable to them.

The Loading Dock Areas SOP was shared with the MEJHA Working Group on May 4, 2015. Additional comments were received and discussions on the content are on-going with affected branches.

The employee representatives reiterated their concerns regarding the issue of recourse and questioned whether all corporate policy instruments dealing with health and safety should be reviewed by the NHSPC. Mr. Tremblay agreed to look into the employee representatives concerns with regard to recourse. Ms. Lorenzato informed the NHSPC that the decision was made to have the Directive on OHS approved by the Board of Management to ensure that the appropriate level of oversight remains, despite the conversion from a policy to a directive. Members agreed that the committee would explore which policy instruments should be reviewed by the NHSPC in the future.

Occupational Health and Safety Annual Report

The Occupational Health and Safety Annual Report will be shared with the Board of Management at the meeting of the Human Resources Committee on September 9, 2015. The report highlights accomplishments in respect of the Agency’s OHS program for 2014-2015.

The committee was advised that a copy of the report will be shared with members at the next meeting in December.

Workplace Violence Prevention

The initial meeting of the Workplace Violence Prevention Working Group composed of management and employee representatives took place on

June 23, 2015. Members were presented with the results of the consultations with various government departments and reviewed current practices in the Public Service.

The working group met again on July 29, 2015 to explore potential options for selecting a competent person and to discuss options for developing a form for reporting. Members were also provided with an overview of the draft Guide to Preventing Workplace Violence and were advised that it would be shared following consultation with internal stakeholders.

On September 2, 2015 the working group met to review the draft form for reporting incidents of workplace violence as well as the draft Guide to Preventing Workplace Violence.

The employee representatives emphasized that the option of having a representative present as an observer during the investigation with the competent person remains a key issue that needs to be resolved.

Members agreed to continue to work collaboratively on the development of the material and were advised that feedback is currently being integrated and will be shared with the NHSPC shortly.

Psychological Standard

The NHSPC was informed that analysis of the data related to the Public Service Employee Survey (PSES) is on-going. The employee representatives expressed their desire to see continued progress on the file and it was agreed that once completed, the results of the data analysis would be discussed with the working group.

Emergency Drill Requirements

In April 2015, the Emergency and Incident Management Division provided the Security and Emergency Management Committee with an evaluation report of the first phase of the three year pilot initiative. The assessment indicated that the enhanced drill requirements provided value and enhanced CRA’s readiness posture.

The committee was informed however that the implementation of the second phase is currently delayed in order to further assess the long-term resource implications and requirements to support the initiative. The employee representatives asked whether the change in schedule had been communicated. The NHSPC was informed that stakeholders were advised of the status and were reminded to continue to meet the minimum drill requirements in the interim. It was agreed that Ms. Hills would confirm which stakeholders were advised via this communiqué and advise the committee.

3. work place health and safety committee effectiveness

Work Place Committee Scorecard

The year-end scorecard numbers were shared with the Agency Management Committee on June 5, 2015. The OHS officers continue to monitor the monthly completion of reports in the portal to ensure the Health and Safety committees and Health and Safety representatives are adhering to legislative requirements.

Mid-year results are currently being compiled and should be ready for circulation shortly. Following commitments made at the June NHSPC meeting, a communication has been finalized which will be sent on behalf of the co-chairs to local committees who have not met their legislative requirements based on the mid-year results. The letters will further emphasize legislative requirements. In the interim, committees that were not meeting requirements as of the year-end report were contacted by the OHS officers. It was also confirmed that the OHS officers are following up to ensure that all offices are registered and using the portal.

Work Place Committee Training Initiative

The online Health and Safety Training for Committee Members was piloted from June 9-11, 2015 with participants selected by the NHSPC. Feedback from the sessions was positive and has been discussed with the working group. Feedback and revisions have been incorporated where necessary. Translation began in August and user-acceptance testing will follow. The on-line portion is expected to be launched in the fall.

Progress continues to be made on the in-class portion of the training as well. Units 3 and 4 were shared with the working group members on August 4, 2015. A pilot of the in-class training is planned for October 2015 with a targeted launch by the end of the fiscal year. It was also confirmed that the Health and Safety Training for Committee Members will not be offered by the Canada School of the Public Service at this time.

Work Place Committee Newsletter

The summer edition of the Health and Safety Committee newsletter was released on July 30, 2015. Information was given on topics including the OHS Reports tool, the process for conducting refusals to work, WHMIS 2015, as well as environmental sensitivities.

The fall edition of the newsletter will be released in October 2015 and will include information on Fire Prevention Week, flu prevention, the launch of the online portion of the Health and Safety Training for Committee Members, and will provide clarification on who can submit and subsequently investigate a T4009.

The employee representatives raised the issue of workplace committees not being provided with reports from PWGSC when requested. Members discussed incidents which occurred most recently in Vancouver and Windsor in light of the committee’s ‘right to know’ under the Canada Labour Code. Members were advised that the Finance and Administration Branch conducts regular conference calls with its representatives in the regions so this mechanism could be used to discuss these issues in the future. Ms. Bernard also informed members that the new Service Level Agreement (SLA) with PWGSC should be concluded shortly and will address the issue of information-sharing. Members were advised that they would be provided with an update once the SLA had been finalised.

4. MEDICAL TREATMENT OR PARAMEDIC RESPONSE MAP

As a result of a request made by the employee representatives at the June 2015 meeting, the NHSPC was provided with an update on emergency medical assistance in the work place.

Members were informed that the OHS website does not currently provide employees with information related to emergency situations where an ill or injured employee requires medical treatment or a paramedic response.

In response to a need to provide guidance in these situations, a medical treatment or paramedic response process map has been prepared. It is intended as a reference for employees, managers and first aid/AED responders and coordinators. The process map addresses the need for a standardized approach in situations where an ill or injured employee requires transport to a medical treatment facility or where paramedics are called for emergency medical attention.

An initial review was completed of the regional and local websites that contained information related to emergency medical situations (e.g. ambulance procedures, illness and accident information, emergency first aid). This information was reviewed and incorporated into a draft process map, where applicable.

Some areas of concern that were identified in the initial review process were: clarification on the First Aid responder’s duty to accompany the ill or injured employee to a medical facility, liability issues surrounding the transportation of ill or injured employees to a medical facility and the refusal of medical treatment.

These issues were discussed in consultation with Legal Services and incorporated into the process map where appropriate. The resulting document was reviewed by regional representatives, Labour Relations, the Emergency and Incident Management Division, the Occupational Health and Safety officers, and the employee representatives. The goal is that the process map will serve as a high level document to provide guidance based on best practice, while leaving room for management discretion, as each case is different.

It provides a 1-page overview of the steps to follow when an injury or illness occurs in the workplace, including seeking assistance from a First Aid/AED responder, transportation to a medical facility (via taxi or ambulance), emergency contact notification and reporting requirements, as well as the steps to take if an employee refuses medical treatment.

The document also includes a link to the Get to know your Work Site First Aid/AED coordinators and responders (part of the First Aid and AED Database), which allows employees to quickly and easily retrieve a list of the First Aid responders in their work site.

The NHSPC acknowledged the work that went in to developing the process map and agreed that it would be a good resource for employees. It was confirmed that it would be posted on InfoZone and communicated widely to ensure all stakeholders were aware of its location.

Prior to closing the item, the employee representatives asked that the committee look into the issue of employees who become ill in the workplace, but who do not need medical assistance.

5. ENVIRONMENTAL SENSITIVITIES IN THE WORKPLACE

In response to a request by employee representatives at the April 2015 meeting, the committee reviewed the subject of environmental sensitivities in the workplace.

The term ‘environmental sensitivities’ can refer to a variety of reactions to chemicals, low level radio frequency, and other environmental factors at exposure levels that most people can tolerate.

The subject of environmental sensitivities has been raised at the NHSPC a number of times since 2001, when a working group was first formed to address the issue. Based on the research provided by the working group, the committee decided that the issue would be best addressed through education and awareness.

Since 2004, CRA has taken this approach in lieu of a scent policy, which is in line with many federal departments and agencies. The agency supports an annual communication campaign and encourages managers to implement local changes to help employees who suffer from environmental sensitivities.

Employees and managers can find recently updated materials on InfoZone that can be used to support education and awareness in the work place.

In October 2014, an information bulletin prepared by the NHSPC on environmental sensitivities was shared with all employees as part of an ‘Agency News’ all staff message. It includes information on how environmental sensitivities can affect employees in the workplace and provides recommendations for reducing the impact.

In July 2015, information on environmental sensitivities was featured in the Work Place Health and Safety Committee newsletter. It included tips on what we can do to support a healthy work environment.

Other resources available on the OHS website include the “Be Air Aware” poster and the “It Just Makes Sense” information sheet. The information sheet provides examples of actions employees can take to support colleagues with environmental sensitivities and demonstrate a shared responsibility towards this issue in the work place.

Members were informed that in October 2015, as part of the ongoing focus on education, the annual communiqué from the NHSPC co-chairs will be posted on InfoZone.The message will provide employees with a link to the education and awareness resources available on the OHS website, as well as encourage employees to communicate with each other in a respectful manner when concerns arise, so that all employees can have a healthy and safe work environment.

The NHSPC was advised that the CRA is also taking steps to raise awareness about environmental sensitivities in the upcoming revision of the CRA Code of Integrity and Professional Conduct which is anticipated for December 2015. Employees will be reminded of their role in protecting the health, security, physical and psychological safety of every employee in the workplace. The Code will also provide a link to the environmental sensitivities information bulletin.

Employees with environmental sensitivities are encouraged to speak with their manager and outline their concerns. Should an issue arise, managers are urged to contact their local Labour Relations advisor through MyHR for guidance and support as each situation must be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

The Injury and Illness Policy and the Managing Injury and Illness Process Tool serve as the guiding documents when managers are supporting employees with accommodation requests or determining appropriate actions for early intervention.

Following a discussion of how to best support employees, members agreed that the CRA would continue to focus on education and awareness to address this issue. It was decided that a document highlighting the tools and information currently available on InfoZone would be created to support managers and employees when these situations arise.

WRITTEN UPDATES

Statistics for Health and Safety Training

As of June 23, 2015, the training statistics show that the number of untrained employees in Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) has decreased by 139 overall, which represents a 1% reduction in untrained employees since April 2015. However, the total number of employees has also decreased by 1,110 (2.5%) nationally during the same period. As of June 2015, the percentage of employees who have completed the OHS training is 97%.

The June 2015 statistics for Health and Safety training for managers shows that the number of untrained managers has increased nationally from 8% to 9%. Atlantic, Ontario, and Pacific saw improvements in the number of untrained managers; whereas Headquarters, Prairie and Quebec had slight increases in the number of untrained managers. Overall, the percentage of managers who have completed the training remains relatively constant, as the increase represents only an additional seven managers who require training since April 2015.

Work Place Violence Prevention Training

At a national level, the number of employees and managers trained in Workplace Violence Prevention continues to improve. Overall, 95% of employees and managers have been trained in this course, which is a 1% improvement since April 2015. The statistics show a consistent improvement in the number of trained employees and managers on a quarterly basis for most regions, with the exception of Headquarters. This increase may be attributed to the influx of almost 300 employees and managers in April 2015.

The committee was advised that the National OHS Section has distributed the training statistics to each region to ensure progress is tracked and to reinforce the importance of a communication strategy to target areas where improvements must be made. The NHSPC was also advised that once the new Procedures for Resolving Incidents of Workplace Violence is in place, the focus will be to ensure that the re-training cycle is in line with legislative requirements.

Following some discussion of the data contained in table 4, the National OHS Section committed to review the data related to ‘contractors’ in particular and report back to the committee.

Occupational Health and Safety Communication Plan

The Committee was provided with an update on the national OHS Communication Plan for 2015-2016. Members were provided with an update on communications issued from July 2015 to September 2015, including the July newsletter as well as those coming up in the fall including the mandatory training reminder and flu prevention information.

Quarterly Security Incident Reports

The NHSPC was provided with the Quarterly Security Incident Report for April 2015 to June 2015. Following the discussion of an event which occurred in the Pacific region in April 2015, but was not included in the report, it was agreed that the FAB would confirm the criteria used to classify events as security incidents and clarify how they are attributed to particular regions.

Finally, in response to a question from the employee representatives on the status of the Employee Threat Mitigation Framework, the committee was informed that the working group would be engaged in Quarter 3.

CLOSING REMARKS

Prior to the closing of the meeting, the employee representatives suggested that the issues of Disclosure of Employee’s surnames in Correspondence and Procedures for FINTRAC files be reviewed by the committee.

It was also suggested that a communication be prepared to remind managers and HR of the requirement to maintain documentation related to asbestos exposure in employee files. The employee representatives also asked that the Agency review whether the Asbestos information sheet would need to be updated to align with the new Health Canada guidelines. It was agreed that the National OHS section would look into these matters further.

Ms. Lorenzato closed the meeting by thanking members for their participation and reminding them of the next meeting scheduled to take place on December 3, 2015. Members also advised that a proposed schedule of meetings for 2015-2016 would be circulated shortly.

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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