Staff Report #5
October 25, 2023
To All Commissioners
Re: 2023 Work Program – Human Resources – Third Quarter Update
The report be NOTED and FILED.
The following report is provided as an update on significant projects as set out in the 2023 Work Program that were scheduled to commence and/or be completed in the third quarter, with the lead on same being the primary responsibility of Human Resources.
5.2(b) – Occupational Health and Safety Work Program – The following provides an update on activities scheduled and/or completed from the Occupational Health and Safety Work Program for the third quarter of 2023:
LTC’s Human Rights and Diversity (Anti-Harassment, Anti-Sexual Harassment and Anti-Discrimination) and Mutual Respect in the Workplace
LTC has a long-standing Human Rights and Diversity Policy (Anti-Harassment, Anti-Sexual and Anti-Discrimination) and a Mutual Respect in the Workplace Policy and Complaint Procedure. These Policies and related Complaint Procedure are reviewed as necessary and at least annually. The Policies and Complaint Procedure are developed in consultation with LTC’s Joint Health and Safety Committees (JHSC) and legal counsel. The Policies and Complaint Procedure form part of LTC’s program of anti-harassment, anti-sexual harassment and anti-discrimination in concert with LTC’s Workplace Violence Prevention Policy and Procedure.
In the fall of 2023, Human Resources undertook a review and update of the corresponding training modules which were initially developed and rolled out in 2015 to ensure each continues to meet legislative requirements and effectively educate all employees on provisions of the policies, addresses workplace issues to reduce policy-related violations and improve the workplace. The updated training module will be presented to the respective parties, including the Joint Health and Safety Committee in the coming weeks.
All employees receive the requisite training as part of LTC’s Onboarding Program. In addition, all employees participate in refresher training at least once every eight years. Further, where warranted, employees may undergo refresher training when an investigation and recommendation dictate same. The eight-year cycle will resume in 2024, with the delivery of the training beginning in the first quarter of 2024.
LTC’s Mental Health Strategy
London Transit’s Mental Health Strategy continues to build upon its existing foundation for psychological health and safety through the Wellness Committee, focusing on the following three strategic goals:
- Changing the Culture – build a culture that recognizes mental health as essential to the quality of life and on par with physical health; employees must feel free and able to raise concerns and seek help when they need to in an environment that is free from stigma
- Building Capacity – build an organizational system that promotes and supports mental health for all employees; we must provide the right training, tools and other resources for staff and managers to promote mental health, enhance resiliency, prevent harm, and address incidents and concerns
- Measuring, Reporting, and Continuously Improvement – we must agree on suitable indicators that we can use to measure progress, frequently take the pulse of our organization and our employee group, and be transparent about progress
In mid-2023, a call for new members for the Wellness Committee was initiated, and the response was positive. The new membership brings valuable learned, experiences and applicable knowledge to contribute positively to Committee goals and initiatives. As we move forward from the pandemic, a primary initiative for the Committee in 2023 was to return to the initial objectives of the strategy and program proposals while ensuring management support to all employees facing challenging times. In addition, the Committee re-developed/updated the mental health support Employee Pocket Guide and will host educational sessions in December 2023 to provide a refresher to employees on the various programs and supports available, as well as the enhanced employee benefits coverage to support mental health.
Impact on Buses Not Communicating
A JHSC Working Group was tasked with reviewing and investigating potential issues relating to “buses on detour” reports that may not show an accurate location on CAD/AVL and the potential health and safety risk. In 2022, there were reports that buses, when on detour, were not accurately reporting their position back to dispatch due to their N/A status in Transit Master Bus Operations (TM). The potential hazard would be the risk of not knowing the bus location in an emergency, hampering the ability to dispatch Inspectors or First Responders to the bus. Given the health and safety risks associated with this issue, a study was undertaken to assess the validity of the claims. The study aimed to review if there was:
- Stop Closure involved
- Bus on detour
- Could radio communications be successful
- Can the bus be tracked in the map function in TM
- Was the map location accurate to report back from Operator
From February through August of 2023, 18 reports of buses were shown as N/A on the route ladder in Transit Master, each was investigated. The study reported back in relation to each question above:
- 2/18 events involved a stop closure
- 13/18 events showed the bus on detour
- 18/18 events had successful radio contact
- 18/18 events had successful location tracking in TM
- 18/18 events, the map location was accurate to report back from the Operator
The study results showed zero evidence of a hazard regarding accurate location information of the bus when shown as N/A for adherence.
Driving Buses with Broken Mirrors – New Item Added in 2023
Through the JHSC, Fleet and Facilities were asked to review the procedures and related training associated with driving a bus with a broken mirror back to the facility. The approach enforced that when dealing with a change-off relating to a broken mirror (if it cannot be repaired on-road by a qualified staff member ), the bus must be towed back to the property, not driven by an LTC employee. The review found that Fleet and Facilities completed shift safety talks on this issue; however, not all employees were in attendance. To ensure the communications and employer expectations are clearly outlined, Fleet will develop a Standard Operating Procedure on this work rule and review it with all Fleet employees.
Use of Open-Door Switch When Bus is In Motion– New Item Added in 2023
Through the JHSC, Fleet and Facilities were asked to review the mechanics of how the “bus open door switch” operates in all buses, as there appeared to be a lack of consistency, which raised safety concerns. Fleet introduced a modification for safety reasons to ensure that all new/future buses were/will be equipped with an override system so that the external open door switch cannot be activated when a bus is in motion or in gear. However, older buses in the fleet were not equipped with this same override system. Presently, fleet management is working with New Flyer to re-program the older buses to ensure consistency of the operation of the switch. Once complete, a communication reminding all operators of this new feature will be distributed.
Workplace Violence Prevention Program
Review and Update – Risk Assessment for the Customer Service Representatives & Planning Staff
The Customer Service Representative position risk assessment was recently updated through London Transit’s Workplace Violence Prevention Program, as was the risk assessment for Planning staff. Both risk assessments detailed potential controls to be evaluated and implemented that could improve the overall work environment and reduce exposure to workplace violence incidents. One key initiative noted was the requirement for enhanced training and support to staff when dealing with the public who are disrespectful, irate and/or verbally threatening.
In addition to the risk assessments, it has been noted that over the last few years, there has been a demonstratable increase in complex interactions experienced by both London Transit’s Customer Service Representatives and London Transit’s Planning staff, both in terms of email, phone, attendance at public information sessions and in-person communications in general.
Through the risk assessments and an increase in more difficult communications, a training program was developed and rolled out to all Customer Service Representatives and Planning staff in the third quarter of 2023. The program focused on managing difficult conversations, defusing escalated situations, knowing when to draw the line and terminate the discussion and when to involve the Supervisor for support. Additionally, on a go-forward basis, moderators hosting LTC events will be advised of the requirement to ensure respectful interactions, and communications will be posted advising that there will be no tolerance for such behaviour.
Review and Update – Risk Assessment for the Inspector Position
In 2021, a JHSC Working Group began the review of the Inspector Risk Assessment. This review was a multi-year project with key initiatives approved and implemented over the two years to ensure the Inspector Risk Assessment aligned with the current work environment. A key approved recommendation implemented was the one-year trial providing enhanced Inspector coverage on the road; this entailed adding one full-time Inspector, modifying shifts to provide for two Inspectors on duty for a majority of on-road service, better-defined optimal spots for stationary work, as well as maximum periods for Inspectors to be stationary. The objective of adding an additional Inspector and re-configuring the shifts and stationary locations was to allow two Inspectors to attend escalated calls and improve response times.
The review/assessment was completed in the second quarter of 2023, and the report will be presented at the next Joint Health and Safety Committee meeting. The findings demonstrate a significant improvement with respect to two Inspectors attending escalated calls. 63% of all escalated calls had two Inspectors attend, compared to the historical average of 39% before the change in protocol. This has allowed one Inspector to focus on the Operator and provide any support required while the other Inspector deals directly with the event (person), LPS, other passengers, etc.; also, the change provides backup for the Inspector when dealing with highly volatile situations. The feedback from Inspectors for this process has been very favourable. Since the trial, the assessment demonstrated that the number one reason why two Inspectors did not attend an escalated call was that the first Inspector on-site cancelled the requirement for the second Inspector as the matter had been dealt with.
The assessment also looked at the response time of Inspectors attending escalated calls. The evaluation found that a response time of “15 minutes” remained consistent before and during the trial period. The response time was anticipated to decline during the trial as Inspectors were stationary at locations more central to the core and/or main terminal locations. However, construction within the London area, specifically downtown, negatively affected the response time during the trial.
The Working Group recommended maintaining the additional Inspector in the current 10-hour shift configuration to maximize coverage, maintain the current designated optimal spots for stationary work, and maintain a maximum period of 30 minutes for Inspectors to be stationary.
Inspector & Dispatch Communications Review
A JHSC Working Group was tasked to assess the effectiveness and best practice of internal communications between two vital operational areas: Dispatch and Inspectors. Part of the approved recommendation was to conduct a study that tracks all issues relating to “dead zones” for Inspector radios and conduct an overall hazard analysis. Considerations of the study included whether the parties could communicate via alternate means, the level of risk to parties involved, and identify any other factors present. The Working Group completed the study, with the findings and recommendations to be presented at the next Joint Health and Safety Committee meeting. The study’s overall results demonstrated that no hazards were found, as in all cases, the affected individuals could communicate through the radio or other means; however, tracking incidents should continue to address any future concerns. The summary of findings are as follows:
- At the start of the study, a new process was implemented to track and assess all issues relating to radio defects. This included information about the date, time, location, device used, how many times it took the call to connect, the reason for the call and whether an alternative device was used.
- From the period January to August of 2023, there were a total of 38,139 radio calls documented:
- The number of reported radio defects during the period under assessment was 59.
- In 32 of those cases, upon investigation, the actual calls were completed (i.e. second attempt, etc.)
- In seven of the cases, garage intervention was required. (Change-off, defect slip, etc.)
- In 20 of the cases, other means of communication were utilized. (i.e. Inspector van radio, cell phone, MDT, 720 etc.).
The Working Group then evaluated each incident where a concern was noted and assessed whether any health or safety risks were associated with the radio loss, using LTC’s hazard reporting process; no hazards were found. The primary communication source was re-established, an alternative form of communication was successful between the parties, or the incident itself did not pose any risk. The report recommends that the Supervisor continue to track all issues and take action as warranted.
6.12 Assess & Implement Recruitment Strategies to Re-Establish Complement
Human Resources has continued to prioritize recruitment and selection in 2023. Efforts to fill vacancies across all departments have been steady throughout the year. Since January 1, 2023, Human Resources has conducted approximately 170 interviews and hired 74 new employees.
In mid-2023, Human Resources underwent a re-alignment of department duties with the existing staff due to the increased recruitment demand. Human Resources reassessed the current process and recognized the need to streamline the recruitment process by appointing a dedicated recruiter, one person to take on the full cycle of responsibilities for recruiting all unionized and administrative staff. Further, through negotiations with the ATU Local 741, significant modifications were made to the Contract relating to the job posting process by introducing more efficient methods for internal recruitment, thereby reducing the time to fill positions internally; these changes include shorter posting periods, dedicated posting dates, removing the “void” date on job postings and implementing defined response periods for employees to decide on accepting or declining a position. In the third quarter, Human Resources implemented these changes and found that the process is significantly streamlined.
Two key positions requiring continual recruitment are the Operator and 310T Mechanic positions. By the end of November, the Operator hiring is anticipated to match the approved complement level. However, as attrition continues to be a factor and the potential for service growth in the 2024 budget, the overall recruitment of Operators will continue to be a priority. Recruitment for 310T Mechanics has not been successful in 2023.
Human Resources continues to expand advertising for these positions; postings run continuously. They are broadly posted across job board websites, our recruitment agency’s site, local classified sites, regular reminders via social media and various community establishments as listed in our “diversity mailing list.” London Transit regularly attends job fairs in the London area to ensure potential applicants can ask questions and learn more about the available positions. In the third quarter of 2023, Human Resources worked with an external consultant who provided recommendations for revamping the current job postings to attract more qualified candidates; these changes were implemented immediately and have since positively impacted the performance of Operator recruitment.
Again, unfortunately, responses to 310T Mechanic positions are not as favourable. A review of the repeat job advertisements for London and area clearly illustrates a competitive demand for 310T Mechanics. As with other organizations, and more specifically, transit systems across the province, London Transit has had great difficulty filling these vacancies for some time now. In November 2023, administration will participate in the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training & Skills Development skilled trades fair called LevelUp. This fair is held over two days and allows students to experience the hands-on aspects of various skilled trades, including 310T Mechanics and exposes them to careers in this area. In addition, the fair includes an open job fair for those seeking employment in these areas. While the interface with students will not immediately impact the current issues with attracting 310T Mechanics, it is anticipated to increase interest in the role and attract more students to the requisite program, resulting in increased numbers of 310T Mechanics in future years.
Human Resources and Fleet management have also worked with ATU Local 741 to expand the 310T Mechanic Apprenticeship program. London Transit has experienced some success in this area, and as such, the program has been expanded. Human Resources is currently recruiting for two additional external Apprentices which can be accommodated within existing budgets, given the ongoing Mechanic vacancies. Additionally, HR is recruiting for one additional internal apprentice, which will be filled subsequent to 2024 budget approval. Human Resources and Fleet management continue to monitor and take action as appropriate to address these issues.
6.12 Collective Agreement
Management and ATU Local 741’s negotiation teams worked collectively to ratify the 2023 – 2026 Collective Agreement. Significant work is underway on implementing the changes included in the new contract, including a substantial rewrite of the contract relating to the specific modifications regarding changes to the seniority provisions.
The following provides updates on programs/initiatives not explicitly identified in the annual work program.
Enhanced Operator Onboarding Program
Human Resources and Operations have undertaken a review and assessment to enhance the Operator Onboarding Program. As noted in Staff Report #5, March 6, 2023, causes of preventable motor vehicle accidents are closely monitored for trends, and where warranted, the Operator training programs are reviewed to assess whether modifications are required. In 2023, additional analysis of preventable accidents identified that a higher number of preventable accidents occurred with Operators with less than two years of driving experience. The increase in preventable accidents was believed to be directly related to the current Operator complement makeup, of which approximately 27% have less than two years of experience, combined with the elimination of the 2,000 hours of driving experience with a requisite license from the Operator posting in 2019. This change was made due to difficulties with filling Operator positions, and the New Operator training program was altered to include additional driving time. It is recognized that the Operator Onboarding Program is an extensive program, with significant information to cover within the five-week period, and a refresher at perhaps the six-month or nine-month period mark would benefit the new Operators.
The development of a refresher Operator training program began in the third quarter and will address areas of concern, such as those noted above and other performance issues. In addition, feedback is being gathered from new Operators through surveys to ensure the refresher program addresses the areas they identify as lacking or needing additional focus. The program is anticipated to be finalized in early November 2023 and rolled out in the first quarter of 2024.
Joanne Galloway, Director of Human Resources
Concurred in by:
Kelly S. Paleczny, General Manager