Staff Report #1
January 30, 2019
To All Commissioners
Re: Occupational Health & Safety Work Programs – 2018 (Status) and 2019 (Draft)
The report be NOTED and FILED.
Each year, the Joint Occupational Health & Safety Committees (JHSC) hold a workshop to review the progress made against the annual Work Program and to recommend to the General Manager the proposed Work Program for the following year. Throughout the year, items may be added to the list and prioritized accordingly as the result of emergent issues that arise.
A summary of the 2018 Work Program status is set out in Enclosure I. Highlights of significant initiatives are below.
Fitness for Duty
London Transit has policies in place to ensure the safety of all staff. The legalization of cannabis in 2018 did not change the requirement for all London Transit employees to come to work fit for duty at all times. Nonetheless, in the late fall of 2018, London Transit did roll out a “Fitness for Duty” policy and related procedures, that came into effect January 1, 2019.
The policy reiterated London Transit’s commitment to providing and maintaining a safe and healthy workplace for all employees, customers, the public/community and the environment, and reinforced London Transit’s position on fitness for duty, substance use, impairment in the workplace, and related support for disabilities, where warranted. The policy and procedures apply to all London Transit employees (all employees at all times while engaged in London Transit business, when on company premises, worksites, assigned as on-call, while in uniform and, while operating London Transit vehicles and equipment) and all London Transit contractors. Key elements of the procedure include:
- responsibilities of all parties, the employer, supervisors and employees
- commitment to support employees with substance use disorders
- education on impacts of substance use
- strategies for the assessment of potential impairment
- definition/designation of safety-sensitive positions
- testing criteria when there is reasonable cause, post-incident and return to work (post-incident)
In late fall 2018, the policy and procedure was distributed to all employees, those designated in “safety-sensitive positions” were advised of same, and all supervisory level employees received requisite training, including emphasis of signs indicating an employee may not be fit for duty and appropriate steps to take.
Workplace Violence Prevention Program – Key Initiatives in 2018
Assessment of Workplace Violence Prevention Training Program
In 2014 the Workplace Violence Prevention Program was significantly re-vamped and re-launched in 2015. All areas of the program including policies and procedures, incident response, employee support, investigation procedures and training were substantially enhanced. Human Resources led the review that included Operations management, Operators, the Joint Health & Safety Committee (JHSC), ATU Local 741 Executive and external assistance by London Police Services and other consultants with requisite expertise.
The Workplace Violence Prevention training program was also re-developed, moving from a half day course to a full two-day program. As of June 30, 2018, all active Operators have completed the training program. The enhanced Workplace Violence Prevention training consists of in-class instruction on policies and procedures, interpersonal skill development, with emphasis on challenging customer service interactions and skills required, threat awareness, and role-playing in real-life scenarios.
The 2018 Work Plan called for the JHSC to assess the effectiveness of the Workplace Violence Prevention Program, including training, banning, and communications to determine program effectiveness. Highlights of the review noted the following:
- the number of incidents has remained stable despite increases in Operator complement, service hours, and ridership
- Operators have demonstrated an increased ability to defuse potentially difficult situations
Subsequent to the development of the Program, updates and training have been implemented to address current events, trends, etc. (i.e. training was updated to ensure Operators were better equipped to handle incidents such that occurred in Winnipeg).
In summary, the JHSC agreed that the Workplace Violence Prevention Program has proven effective and has had positive results for employees. However, the parties also recognize the ongoing commitment to reduce incidents of this nature is paramount and remains a top priority for the JHSCs and London Transit.
Operator Safety Barriers
In July 2017, the General Manager asked the JHSC to establish a working group to re-assess Operator Safety Barriers. An Operator Safety Barrier is one of many tools that can help prevent or mitigate assaults. Some of the other tools and techniques already in place to help reduce and/or mitigate assaults include a radio system, covert alarms, and those initiatives noted above.
The Operator Safety Barrier Working Group (OSBWG), comprised of JHSC members, ATU Local 741 President and Vice President, and respective Directors was tasked with assessing Operator Safety Barriers. The OSBWG conducted a site visit to Brampton Transit as they were in the process of a multi-year assessment on Operator Safety Barriers. The group was given the opportunity to speak to Brampton’s Joint Health and Safety Representative, their ATU President, and the respective management team. Brampton’s working group had worked with a number of manufacturers to install several prototypes for testing. These prototypes had been in service for over two years, which had allowed the parties time to assess overall effectiveness, comfort, maintenance, etc. of same. All parties from Brampton were in favour of one prototype, and LTC’s OSBWG were in unanimous concurrence.
The prototype being assessed at LTC is manufactured by AROW Global Corp. AROW Global has been operating in Canada and the United States since 1965 and is based in Mosinee, Wisconsin. AROW Global specializes in the design and production of transportation window systems for major North American bus and recreational vehicle manufacturers.
Highlights of the prototype include:
- split sliding glass allows front portion to open for easy customer communication and has an anti-glare component
- fixed solid portion barrier prevents blindside contact from behind—even when the sliding portion is open
- offers protection from assaults including jumping assailants, thrown objects, climbing over and spitting
London Transit proceeded with a pilot program with AROW Global Corp., with the installation of Operator Safety Barriers on three LTC buses for a one-year assessment which began when the newly equipped buses were introduced into service on August 13, 2018. Presently, feedback is being compiled from Operators, Maintenance personnel and transit riders on their experience with the barriers.
Through the JHSC, a working group was established to investigate options for reducing forces when releasing maxi-brakes in the Excelsior model of bus, noting there are approximately 130 of this model in the LTC fleet. A prototype tool was developed which significantly reduced the force required to release the maxi-brake. Field testing by experienced Operators occurred, and with their feedback several tweaks were made. The tool was introduced to Operators during the March 2018 sign-up and was installed in all requisite buses. Feedback on the tool has been positive.
Blind Spots on Articulated Buses
Through the JHSC, a working group was established to review and investigate potential blind spots on the articulated buses. A recommendation was approved to install a camera overtop of the rear door in the articulated buses, so as to improve an Operator’s sightline during passenger alighting at the back door. The cameras have been installed in all requisite buses, and were introduced to Operators during the March 2018 sign-up. Feedback on the cameras have been positive
Noise Conservation Program
In late 2017 and again in March 2018, noise surveys were conducted for Fleet & Facilities at the 450 Highbury Avenue facility. Testing was performed by OSHTECH Incorporated. Results found that, in specific areas in the garage, noise exposures exceeded the Ministry of Labour compliance criterion of 85 decibels averaged over an eight-hour shift. As such a full noise conservation program was developed and implemented. The program is comprised of the following elements:
- Noise Hazard Assessment
- Noise Control Measures (engineering and administrative controls)
- Hearing Protection Devices (with aid from E-A-Rfit Validation System)
- Employee Education and Training
- Audiometric Testing for employees in the garage
On-Site Pedestrian Safety at the Highbury Facility
To better protect the safety of all employees not wearing appropriate personal protective equipment, the employee walkway on 1-Track has been removed in an effort to re-direct the flow of employee traffic to a designated area.
Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) 2015
As at December 1, 2018 London Transit was in full compliance with WHMIS 2015 per legislative requirements. For historical information, WHMIS changed to adopt new international standards for classifying hazardous chemicals and providing information on labels and safety data sheets. The new international standards are now part of the Globally Harmonized System for the Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). All required training and identification of hazardous materials in the workplace are complete.
Mental Health Strategy
Highlights of the 2018 Mental Health initiatives are as follows:
- Human Resources, with the assistance from an external consultant, developed and delivered “Understanding and Supporting Mental Health in the Workplace from a Co-Worker/Union Perspective”. The training was delivered in February 2018 to the ATU – Local 741 Executive, Inspectors, Wellness Committee and Peer Supports.
- Human Resources and the LTC Wellness Committee also developed a Mental Health and Wellness Policy, which is under review for implementation in 2019. Continued retraining of Human Rights, Mutual Respect in the Workplace and Diversity policy/procedures for all employees.
- Human Resources, LTC Wellness Committee with assistance of external resources developed a custom training program on the topic of “Mental Health Resiliency” (i.e. tips and strategies to manage mental health) tailored to address issues consistent with those experienced by the London Transit employee group. As done so in the past, this transit-specific approach will aid in the transfer of knowledge from the classroom to on-the-job situations. The curriculum focuses on the following:
- Mental Health and Wellbeing introduction, “the continuum of mental health”
- Self-awareness /understanding your mental health/self-assessment of level of mental health
- Recognizing stressors
- Who do you call when it’s not OK
In addition, the training includes video-embedded portions, addressing mental health issues trending with London Transit employee groups and how best to deal with same. This training module will be rolled out in the second quarter of 2019.
Workplace Violence Prevention Program – Key Initiatives in 2019
The 2019 Work Program, as set out in Enclosure II, has been reviewed by the General Manager who is in concurrence with same. Several key initiatives include:
Mental Health Strategy – The Wellness Committee will develop the 2019 action plan for the year, primarily focusing on the roll out the resiliency training. Also, focus will be centred on effective and respectful communications and additional support for new hires.
Workplace Violence Prevention program – a number of initiatives with respect to workplace violence prevention will be undertaken in 2019, each of which is described in greater detail below.
- Complete the final phase of LTC’s Operator Safety Barrier Program. Upon completion of the pilot program at the end of August, 2019, the information gathered will be assessed with a report from the JHSC working group on final recommendations for consideration.
- Inspectors are required to assist Operators in a variety of situations, some of which are different and or difficult, (i.e. dealing with escalated customer interaction), as such a thorough review of training provided will be undertaken to ensure that Inspectors have the appropriate tools and resources available to perform their roles safely and effectively.
- Throughout any given year, LTC staff participate in various sessions with the public, such as information sessions, drop in’s etc. Unfortunately, in 2018 there were incidents where public participation resulted in untoward treatment of LTC employees. As such a workplace violence risk assessment will be completed in this area, looking both at current and potential controls and evaluating same (concerning engineering and procedural measures).
Vibration Study Update – In 2007/08 through the JHSC in concert with OSHTECH Incorporated, a vibration measurement study of bus driving was completed. The assessment determined the actual levels of full body vibration within the then fleet and measured the Operator’s seating against vibration exposure guidelines to assess the effects of vibration concerning Operator comfort and safety. Since that testing, the model series of buses have been updated for the most part, as such an updated vibration measurement study is scheduled for completion. Findings of same will be assessed for action as deemed appropriate.
Job Hazard Assessment – A job hazards assessment will be completed in the machine shop in the garage at 450 Highbury Ave., (in terms of those working in area and the physical layout of the area). The assessment will entail a systematic and documented review of the steps undertaken to perform work, with a view to all aspects of health and safety and a special emphasis on identifying and dealing with safety hazards inherent in the steps performed in the designated work area.
Updates with respect to progress on the items included in the 2019 Work Program will be provided as part of the departmental quarterly updates to the Commission.
John Gillet, Co-Chair – Occupational Health & Safety Committee and Operator
Tyson Cragg, Co-Chair – Occupational Health & Safety Committee and Manager of Operations Administration
Joanne Galloway, Director of Human Resources
Concurred in by:
Kelly S. Paleczny, General Manager