How quickly time has passed and so many things are up and running. I am sure many of you are knee deep in district wide assessment, curriculum planning, staff meetings, team meetings and department meetings at your school and another meeting is the last thing on your mind.
A reminder to new committee members and experienced members alike, your school must have a Health and Safety committee up and running before the end of the September. Before September is out, your committee needs to send the minutes of that first meeting to the District Health and Safety officer, Janet Langston. Hopefully your committee has organized an inspection for the coming weeks to ensure the worksite is a safe and health workplace.
Look to see if there are properly labeled cleaning products, boxes and storage containers are stored in a safe manner. Heavier boxes need to be on lower shelves or closer to the floor. Check to see if exits are clear or if there are items such as filing cabinet that might block the egress of room occupants if it fell over. Furthermore, as medical room supplies are replenished, due ensure that chemical ice packs are only used for field trips. Chemical ice packs that are one time use only must be disposed off after use. They are not meant to be reused or refrozen. These packages do breakdown and one teacher was serious burned as a result of an chemical ice pack leaking onto her skin.
Remember, your duty as a worker is to be aware of health and safety hazards and to report unsafe situation. Every worker is required to "...take reasonable care to protect the worker's health and safety and the health and safety of other persons who may be affected by the worker's acts or omissions at work..." (Worker Compensation Act: Part 161)
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Greetings from your new 2nd Vice President to a new school year. The bulk of my duties in this role are Health and Safety. I am your contact person if you are heving difficulties with health and safety issues in your place of work. The administration and then, the health and safety committee in your school or work area are your first port of call if have a complaint. My role is to support the teachers when you are not getting action on your concern. I am also representing you with two other colleagues on the District Health and Safety Committee. This committee is an oversight agency that deals with trends, conducts worksite inspections and develops and institutes policies and practices for safer worksites.
While my jurisdiction is teachers, in actual fact the law regarding Workers Compensation is more black and white. There are employers, ie, the Board of Trustees and there are workers. From the Superintendent on down to the principals, teachers secretaries, educational assitants, grass cutters and all other manner of empoyees of School District 61, we are all workers in the eyes of the law. While we might recognize some occupations as more hazardous than others, the manner of occupational hazard varies from job to job. It is only recently that occupations like nursing and education have had their own brand of occupational hazards brought to life. Teachers are prone to slips, falls and strains as much as the others. Some teachers work in classrooms that have traditional hazards like wood shops and home economic classes to name two, but increasingly teachers are exposed to other forms of health and safety issues like H1N1, violence and unsafe work environments.
The best thing about Health and Safety is the legislation. It brings about action and the regulations are not disputable. WCB can be brought in to write orders to resolve an issue if the employer does not remediate the problem. In many cases, the action is swifter than the grievance procedure. To his end, we will be looking to add Health and Safety items to the bargaining table this year. Many other locals have H&S clauses which can given added weight to the topics as violations of them bring in the grievance produre as well as WCB.
It is incumbent on all of us as workers to look out for the health and safety of our fellow employees. From this viewpoint teachers, principals educational assistants and custodians are all in the same boat. Be safe!