Health and Safety Committee Report
Hard to believe that another year has passed! And it has been a full year! Committee members have been involved in conducting workplace and pre-occupancy inspections, investigating accidents, raising concerns to the Employer and participating in Certification training and other training relating to occupational health and safety.
There have been changes to the Committee, and so please see the list below:
Committee Members and contact information
|Sonny Day (Co-Chair)||firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Paula Gowdie Rose (Co-Chair)||email@example.com|
|D. Lorraine Marfirstname.lastname@example.org|
Ten (10) Committee members also participate in the YUSAPUY Joint Health and Safety Committee as worker members. Three (3) Committee members are worker member alternates.
Contact Committee members with questions about issues relating to occupational health and safety.
Once again, thank You! to the YUSAPUY membership for continuing to support the Committee in the work that we do. And, of course, Thank you! to Committee Members for your dedication to your colleagues!
Interested in joining the Committee? Contact the Co-Chairs: Sonny Day and Paula Gowdie Rose
Below is a synopsis of some of the many occupational health and safety issues our Committee became aware of and/or participated in this year.
Amendments to the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA): Bill 168 (2009) amended the OHSA with respect to violence and harassment in the workplace, including providing definitions of workplace violence and harassment. Bill 132 —Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harassment), 2016 — enacts changes relating to sexual harassment in the workplace to six (6) Acts, and came into effect on September 8, 2016.
Bill 132 provides a definition of sexual harassment, amends the definition of workplace harassment to include sexual harassment, requires new Employer obligations in harassment programs to investigate incidents and complaints of sexual harassment and provide the complainant and the harasser (if an Employee) with written results of the investigation and any corrective actions to be taken, supports that practices employed by Employers in directing workers do not constitute harassment and gives specific powers regarding workplace harassment to Ministry of Labour inspectors who can now order Employers to have investigations conducted by an impartial, knowledgeable third party at Employers’ expense.
Under the changes to the OHSA, incidents of workplace sexual harassment include circumstances involving other Employees, Clients of an Employer, visitors to the facilities —anyone in the workplace!
Employee turnover in HSEWB: The main department charged with Health and Safety at York University is “Health Safety and Employee Wellbeing” (HSEWB) formerly known as the “Department of Occupational Health and Safety” (DOHS).
By our estimation all except two employees in the department have joined York in 2013 or later, and the manager and director have joined within the past year. The previous director left York after a little more than 2 years. While on one hand it’s good to have people with a fresh perspective, it can be challenging to develop long term goals and have them implemented when our management counterparts are constantly changing. We continue to work with our management counterparts to improve the health and safety of workers at the university.
Glendon Hill Access During Poor Weather Conditions: Worker Members of the YUSAPUY Joint Health and Safety Committee identified issues related to the lower level of the Glendon campus particularly during inclement weather. The specific concerns — safe access during inclement weather and whether Employees should remain at Proctor Field House during these times. These concerns were raised to Gary Brewer, Vice President, Finance and Administration by the YUSAPUY Joint Health and Safety Committee in a Joint Recommendation. A favourable response has been received indicating the initiation of a consultation and planning process involving several York departments with an action plan expected over the next several weeks.
Lockdown procedures: It’s been observed that at other educational institutions lockdown procedures are made highly visible by posting them in classrooms etc. but at York, we’ve found that there is very little awareness as to what to do in the event of a Iockdown. We’ve met and raised this concern with Kathy Branton who is the Manager of the Emergency Preparedness Program (EPP). She has advised us that if any department would like training as to how to respond to a Iockdown the EPP office would be able to facilitate this. Also the university has an “Emergency Response Guide” which should be available to everyone. If any department needs guides or training they can contact Kathy at email@example.com
It was also pointed out to us that if you install the York U Safety app (available for apple or android) and enable notifications you will automatically get university emergency notifications on your phone.
Smoking in the Workplace: The Smoke Free Ontario Act restricts smoking in buildings and public places, and nine metres away from entrances and exits to public places. Worker Members of the YUSAPUY JHSC raised this issue and we have been able to determine that York has a project currently underway to update no smoking signs at entrances and exits to buildings and to move ashtrays to locations 9 metres away from entrances and exits to buildings.
The legislation does not yet address the use of e-cigarettes in buildings and public places, though, discussions have been ongoing at the Ontario government level.
Program Reviews: The collective agreement gives the YUSA Joint Health and Safety Committee the right to participate in the design and evaluation of health and safety programs at the university. In the past we would meet in person with the employer to review the various programs. When we met in person we were often able to quickly agree to and implement changes. However, recently the employer has tried to “virtualize” this process, which in practice has meant that we send emails instead of meeting, which has made it much more difficult to collaborate. It’s our contention that this is not a true participative process and we are pushing to resume our past practice of meeting in person to review these programs.
1 The six (6) affected statutes include: Compensation for Victims of Crime Act, Limitations Act, 2002, Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act, Occupational Health and Safety Act, Private Career Colleges Act, 2005, Residential Tenancies Act, 2006