Health and Safety Committee

Minutes of the National Health and Safety Policy Committee

December 3, 2015

DATE:                    December 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
Robert Allen
Claude Tremblay
Dana-Lynne Hills

Doug Mason
(Employee Co-Chair)         
Harry Walker (PIPSC)
Doug Gaetz (UTE)
Andrea Holmes (UTE)
Marc Brière (UTE)

Absent  

  Debbie Ferguson (UTE)
Simon Ferrand (PIPSC)

Secretary

Heather DiPenta  

Observers

Dan Couture
Jaime Robinson
David Walsh
Lauren Jolly
 

OPENING REMARKS

Mr. Doug Mason welcomed committee members to the final meeting of the year and began by confirming that Ms. Andrea Holmes would be replacing Ms. Debbie Ferguson for this meeting. Mr. Mason noted that he was pleased to review the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Annual Report and the work accomplished over the last year. In particular, he remarked that he was happy to see a drop in the number of ergonomic related injuries for 2013-2014 and took the opportunity to recognize the work accomplished to date in advancing the Agency’s Ergonomics Program.

Mr. Mason also acknowledged that work continues on several key files including the psychological standard, workplace violence procedures, communications with health and safety committees, OHS training, as well as employee onboarding.

Mr. Doug Gaetz passed on his appreciation to the Agency for its participation in the Union of Taxation Employees (UTE) National Health and Safety Conference which took place in Ottawa from November 6-8, 2015. In particular he thanked Mr. Claude Tremblay and Ms. Jaime Robinson for their participation and noted that their presentations were very well-received by the participants.

Prior to passing the floor to Mr. Mason to chair the meeting, Ms. Diane Lorenzato took the opportunity to thank members for their work to date and noted that she was excited to work together to develop the committee’s work plan for the upcoming year.

1. Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (AVC) AND Directions

The NHSPC was provided with an update on the Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (AVC), which was received by the office located in Windsor at the Paul Martin Building. The AVC was in relation to a complaint filed by an employee in regards to the condition of the building’s façade.

Committee members were advised that on September 23, 2015, the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) Health and Safety officer (HSO) issued an AVC. The AVC stated that the employer had failed to identify and assess hazards in the work place, specifically those hazards that are unique to the work place located at 185 Ouellette Avenue in Windsor, Ontario. The NHSPC was informed that a response to the AVC was provided to the HSO on October 16, 2015.

The response cited that a draft of the local Hazard Prevention Program had been prepared so that management could work with the local health and safety committee to identify and assess the hazards unique to the work place. Additionally, the response stated that the action plan has an anticipated completion date of April 15, 2016. The HSO confirmed that no further information was required at this time and that the file is currently closed pending a follow up once the action plan is implemented.

Following the update, the employee representatives expressed their continued concerns with the overall state of the building, including ongoing maintenance issues, as well as the timeliness of information sharing. Members also took the opportunity to discuss the launch of the tender by Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) to repair the building’s façade and concluded by agreeing that any reported maintenance issues at the Windsor location should be actioned in a timely manner.

2. Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) OHS PROGRAM

Occupational Health and Safety Annual Report

The NHSPC was presented with an overview of the OHS Annual Report for 2014‑2015. The report, which was shared with the Board of Management on September 9, 2015 and committee members on November 30, 2015, outlined some of the key program advancements from the past year, including:

  • the implementation and communication of various changes to the Canada Labour Code, Part II;
  • the launch of the training course for field employees conducting off-site visits in December 2014;
  • the review of corporate policy instruments through the policy simplification exercise and Multiple Environment Job Hazard Analysis (MEJHA) action plan, as well as the development of various standard operating procedures (SOP) and safe work procedures (SWP); and
  • enhancement to the Agency’s monitoring capability through the launch of the electronic reporting tool for health and safety committee activities.

The report also included a summary of the Direction received by the Agency with respect to the Windsor Tax Services Office (TSO) which was previously provided to the NHSPC, as well as the two non-conformances issued in response to the concerns expressed by the Winnipeg TSO.

Committee members were also provided with a summary of some of the key OHS performance indicators, including statistics related to legislative requirements, training, expenses, and occupational injuries outlined in the report. The committee also reviewed the most common accident types reported at the Agency, which include ergonomic, environmental, and slips and falls. Some of the strategies being put in place to protect employees, include:

  • providing all employees access to readily-available prevention information, such as the self-help ergonomic adjustment tool and the ability to connect with an ergonomic coach;
  • creating a new web resource (to be launched in January 2016) that will provide additional prevention information, guidance, and links to resources for employees and managers on the ‘environmental’ group of injuries;  
  • updating and continuing to improve the Hazardous Occurrence Investigation Report and supporting information in order to facilitate the accurate reporting of injuries and illnesses in the workplace; and
  • working with the Training and Learning Directorate to develop a number of KnowHow solutions related to health and safety, and exploring the possibility of including information on the prevention of slips and falls.

Members decided that the committee would focus on educating employees on the hazards associated with slips and falls. It was agreed that the National OHS Section would look into the work involved with analyzing the current data so that communications could be effectively targeted.

Psychological Standard

The NHSPC was provided with an update on the December 2, 2015 meeting of the psychological standard working group. Members met to review and discuss the results of the data analysis related to the Public Service Employee Survey and to discuss the way forward for the group. It was agreed that members would review the sample audit tool, but would first need to review the recently released Technical Committee Report to the Steering Committee on Mental Health in the Workplace in order to determine next steps.

Workplace Violence Prevention

Subsequent to the September 2, 2015 meeting of the working group, the National OHS Section integrated feedback into the draft Guide to Preventing Workplace Violence, as well as the draft form for reporting incidents of workplace violence.
A draft of the procedures was shared with the employee representatives on November 10, 2015. Members of the working group met on December 2, 2015 to review the latest draft of the procedures and guide following a subsequent round of consultation with stakeholders.

The employee representatives reiterated their concerns regarding the observer role and, following some discussion, the committee decided that a summary of feedback and revisions made to the procedures would be shared with the employee representatives. It was also agreed that, in the interim, the guide would be posted following a final review by the employee representatives, while the procedures would remain in draft form.

Additional Topics

Following the discussion on workplace violence, Ms. Dana-Lynne Hills confirmed that the meeting of the employee threat mitigation framework working group was being rescheduled and that employee representatives would be provided with potential dates for the next meeting.

It was also agreed that a meeting would be scheduled between the employee representatives and representatives of Real Property Service Integration Directorate to discuss ongoing concerns related to the Physical Work Environment Issue Resolution Procedure, as well as the communication piece on small appliances in the workplace.

Mr. Mason noted that the committee is waiting for a reply on the Sudbury business case for removing employee names from taxpayer letters for certain programs.

It was also confirmed that representatives from the National OHS Section and the Collective Bargaining, Interpretation, and Recourse Division would be meeting with the employee representatives to discuss their concerns with regards to recourse on CRA policies.

Finally, Mr. Mason suggested that as part of its work plan, the committee consider a proposal from Calgary to look into the use of automated reminders for stretching in response to health concerns associated with sitting for extended periods.

3. work place health and safety committee effectiveness

Work Place Committee Scorecard

A summary of the mid-year scorecards was provided to the NHSPC. The scorecards were sent to the regions on November 27, 2015, and the employee representatives on November 30, 2015.

Members were advised that overall, the results of the mid-year scorecards were positive. At a national level, 99% of committees are on target to meet the requirements of meeting nine times per year and 91% of committees have met the requirement to hold monthly inspections. The committee was informed that all regions are on target to meet nine times per year, with the exception of one location in Headquarters which had data missing. In terms of monthly inspections, the Pacific and Quebec regions are at 100% completion, while Atlantic, Ontario and Prairie regions are at over 90%. Headquarters is at 76%, with four work sites not on target.

The NHSPC took the opportunity to highlight the continued success of several regions in ensuring it meets the “meeting requirements”, with:

  • Atlantic Region for the past four years in a row; 
  • Prairie Region for three years; and
  • the Pacific and Quebec Regions for the last two years.

It was also noted that the Pacific region has maintained a 100% completion rate for its monthly inspections since 2014.

When comparing the statistics year over year, the number of committees who have met their annual requirements for the number of meetings and monthly inspections has continued to improve overall under the oversight of the NHSPC. Members were informed that the health and safety officers have also been proactive in encouraging the use of the electronic OHS Report tool and have followed up with the committees who did not meet their legislated requirements at mid-year.

It was also confirmed that an email would be sent following the meeting on behalf of the NHSPC Co-Chairs to local committees which had not met their requirements reminding them of their legislated responsibilities. It was confirmed that the respective Assistant Commissioners would also be copied on those emails.

Work Place Committee Training Initiative

The committee was advised that the online portion of the course is scheduled to be launched before the end of 2015. The technical review of the French content was completed and the final version was shared with the employee representatives on December 1, 2015.

Unit 5 of the in-class portion was shared with the employee representatives on October 29, 2015 and members were informed that the pilot is scheduled to take place in January 2016.

Health and Safety Committees and Representatives Standard Operating Procedure

The NHSPC was informed that the standard operating procedure (SOP) has been approved and will be launched on December 17, 2015. It was also confirmed that several related documents, including the health and safety committee Terms of Reference guide and minutes template, would be updated in line with this new document.

It was agreed that an item would be added to a future edition of the newsletter to clarify that health and safety committees should be addressing building related issues with their local real property representatives.

Work Place Committee Newsletter

The fall newsletter was published on November 25, 2015 and included:

  • a summary of the changes for the new Policy Committees, Work Place Committees and Health and Safety Representatives Regulations;
  • information on flu prevention;
  • tips for committees about the annual planning of meetings and inspections;
  • updates made to the OHS reports; and
  • a reminder that a manual T4009 (not the online version) should be used for reporting situations of workplace violence.

The next newsletter is scheduled for January 2016 and will focus on the new policy instruments.

4. CANADA SCHOOL OF THE PUBLIC SERVICE COURSE DELIVERY

The NHSPC was provided with an update on the new enterprise-wide approach to learning with the Canada School of the Public Service (CSPS) by Mr. Tim Olaveson, Director with the Strategic Learning Analysis and Policy Division in the Training and Learning Directorate (TLD).

Mr. Olaveson explained that in March 2014, a new mandate for the CSPS was established and that going forward, the CSPS will design and deliver enterprise‑wide training and professional development to all public servants across departments and agencies. The intent of the new model is to reduce design, development, and delivery duplication across the public service. Some of the intended benefits of transitioning to the new CSPS model include:

  • course content will be updated by the school to reflect policy changes;
  • consistency in training for all employees and managers;
  • cost savings associated with course development and delivery; and
  • networking opportunities across departments and agencies.

This new approach to learning will be phased in over three years, starting in 2014‑2015 and is scheduled to be fully implemented in 2016-2017. As a result, the CRA will gradually phase out leadership and corporate courses that the CSPS intends to deliver. This will allow the Agency to focus on technical and CRA specific training.

It was noted that the CSPS has partnered with the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) to deliver a wide variety of relevant and up-to-date health and safety e-learning courses. These highly specialized courses have been reviewed by representatives from both labour and employers, in both the public and private sectors. TLD led a “crosswalk” exercise with several branches to compare CRA’s courses to the courses available at CSPS. Part of that crosswalk exercise included a review of the health and safety courses available at the CSPS.

As part of the crosswalk exercise, a content analysis of the eight occupational health and safety courses at CRA was done by subject matter experts in the National OHS Section. Preliminary results indicate that three courses may transition to the CSPS. The three courses that were identified as possible equivalents and could transition to CSPS are:

  • Health and Safety Training for Employees;
  • Health and Safety Training for Managers; and
  • Work Place Violence Prevention Training.

As the CSPS does not currently offer an equivalent course, the five remaining courses which will continue to be offered at CRA include:

  • Health and Safety Training for Committee Members;
  • Standard First Aid
  • AED Training/Recertification;
  • Office Ergonomics: Self-Adjustment Tool; and
  • Health and Safety Awareness for Field Employees.

Members were advised that employees will be informed prior to the transition through communications from the Human Resources Branch and that the new employee onboarding system will be set up to link employees seamlessly with the required courses.

Members then took the opportunity to discuss the issue of mandatory re-training for workplace violence. It was confirmed that the National OHS Section would review the numbers of employees requiring re-training for discussion at the next NHSPC meeting in March 2015. In the interim, it was noted that employees wishing to take the course should add it to their Individual Learning Plan (ILP) for discussion with their manager.

Finally, the NHSPC was advised that prior to the transition of courses to the CSPS, the Agency will ensure that any outstanding issues regarding tracking and online accessibility of courses are addressed.

5. SEVERE WEATHER – BUILDING CLOSURE GUIDANCE

During 2014-2015, the Agency experienced an unprecedented number of building closures or delayed openings as a result of severe weather related incidents, such as snow storms, floods, and power outages. This raised concerns and grievances regarding employees’ health and safety.

While there are existing standards and thresholds that determine when a building must be closed, such as no water in the building, there is no guidance to help Responsible Building Authorities (RBAs) in making the decision to close a building in cases of severe weather related events. As a result, the Emergency and Incident Management Division (EIMD) was tasked with developing a guidance document to assist RBAs in dealing with these situations, while still ensuring the health and safety of employees at the local level.

As a first step, a meeting was held on October 22, 2015 with representatives of EIMD and employee representatives to identify some of the key factors and issues to be considered. The NHSPC was informed that a draft guidance document is under development to assist RBAs in dealing with these situations.

Employee representatives expressed their concerns around consistency in how decisions are made to close buildings and suggested that RBAs be strongly encouraged to use the document. Ms. Hills explained that the goal of the document is to help ensure that RBAs have considered all factors prior to making a decision on closing a building due to severe weather.

The committee was advised that they will be kept informed of the status of the document’s development and will have the opportunity to provide feedback on the draft prior to its release.

WRITTEN UPDATES

Statistics for Health and Safety Training

As of November 3, 2015, the number of untrained employees in Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) has decreased by 236 overall, which continues to represent 3% of employees nationally. All regions have had a 1% reduction in the number of untrained employees since June 2015, with the exception of Headquarters (1% increase) and Quebec (2% reduction).

The November 2015 statistics for health and safety training for managers shows that the number of untrained managers has increased nationally from 9% to 10%. Ontario, Prairie and Quebec saw improvements in the number of untrained managers; whereas Atlantic, Headquarters, and Pacific had slight increases in the number of untrained managers. While the percentage of managers who have completed the training remains relatively constant (the increase represents only an additional eight (8) managers who require training since June 2015), there has been a 1% increase in untrained managers each quarter since April 2015.

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, 95% of employees and managers have been trained in this course, and since June 2015, the number of untrained employees and managers has been reduced by 331. The statistics show a consistent improvement in the number of trained employees and managers on a quarterly basis for all regions.

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. Mr. Gaetz expressed his concern that the statistics for Headquarters continue to stand out in comparison to the other regions. It was agreed that Ms. Lorenzato would contact her colleagues to request their assistance in reducing the number of untrained managers and employees in the Headquarters region.

Occupational Health and Safety Communication Plan

The committee was provided with an update on the national OHS communication plan for 2015-2016. OHS messaging related to mandatory OHS training and flu prevention was issued between September 2015 and December 2015. Members were also advised that on an ongoing basis, the communications calendar would also be shared with the regional directors of human resources.

Although there were no concerns raised with the communications plan, the employee representatives underlined the importance of issuing the communications related to the National Day of Mourning in a timely manner.

Quarterly Security Incident Reports

The committee was provided with the Quarterly Security Incident Reports for July to September 2015. While there were no issues raised with the current report, as a follow up to September’s meeting, Ms. Hills confirmed that the incident which occurred in April 2015 in the Pacific region was not included in the report as it was categorized as vandalism rather than a security incident.

CLOSING REMARKS

In his closing remarks, Mr. Mason took the opportunity to congratulate Ms. Robinson and Ms. Heather DiPenta on their new acting assignments. Mr. Mason also suggested that the committee look into the use of light filters in the workplace from an OHS perspective. Both Mr. Mason and Ms. Lorenzato thanked members for their work during the year and wished them a safe and happy holiday season.

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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