Improving & Policing the Employee Safety Concern Process

November 21st, 2018

Continuous improvement is one aspect of the auto industry that can be frustrating for all of us. Change is uncomfortable, but sometimes it is inevitable, and sometimes we may be given a chance to offer input on the direction of that change. Recently, the Element Champion for Employee Engagement offered us the opportunity to give input to help improve the ESCP forms, and we responded.

We now have a risk rating calculation tool attached to the Level 4 tracking sheet. Now the G/L is required to use the risk assessment rating tool to calculate the risk rating associated with the concern. The tool removes a lot of subjectivity for assessing risk, and if the tool rates the risk as high or unacceptable, the rest of the risk assessment must be completed in conjunction with the JHSC. This enables us to become involved earlier in the process, giving us the opportunity to recommend countermeasures that may be more acceptable to the member who raised the concern, to help resolve the concern while improving employee engagement. Also added to the Level 4 sheet are reminders that issues must remain open on the Level 5 sheet until resolved, regardless of the stage of escalation, and that ONGOING FEEDBACK be given to the team or individual who raised the concern.

The Level 2 Scorecard is used by the Business Team Managers to report their team’s safety performance to the Plant Safety Review Board. New to this form is a box that reports the number of employee safety concerns opened and closed during the month. This will accomplish a couple things. For one, if there are no safety concerns raised in a month, the department is either a really safe place to work or maybe employee engagement is suffering because employees may not be comfortable with the process, which should be investigated. The other thing is, if there are more concerns opened than closed does this Business Team need some help, coaching or more resources for addressing employee safety concerns?

New to the Level 5 Safety Concern sheet is a box to identify an issue as an ergonomic concern. This was a recommendation from the Plant’s Ergonomics Committee, which helps drive an ergo issue more quickly than the present ESCP escalation process to the Dept. Industrial Engineer and your Ergo / Placement Rep.

The Employee Safety Concern Process may be part of the Company’s Global Manufacturing System, but it really belongs to us. Ownership of a safety concern is huge and because you have the right to refuse unsafe work, your engagement in the Employee Safety Concern Process is a very valuable tool for us as your Reps. Jointly recognized is the importance of resolving health and safety concerns before they become work refusals and without loss of production. This is why the ESCP was created. This is also why documenting a safety concern is so important.

A recent work refusal in Gen V Crank resulted because an issue that was raised by a team member was not documented by the G/L. Three weeks went by with no investigation of the issue, no proposed countermeasures, no offer of anything using the hierarchy of controls other that the offer of PPE. Had the ESCP been followed, those three weeks could have been used to resolve the issue and the work refusal might not have happened. Our job as your Reps is to police and audit the ESCP. We have developed our own documentation process for that, which will see us visit each board in every department for a monthly update of our process. We do this to drive any needed action for a timelier resolution of your safety concerns, by following your departments escalation process rather than taking issues to the JHSC, which may take longer.

Pig Mats

One issue we raised at the JHSC, to address an injury that occurred to a Team Member who slipped and fell in a puddle of coolant in Gen V Block, began with our simple recommendation for GSC to supply each machining department with pig mats delivered to POU racks. This issue has been on our JHSC minutes since Feb. 2018, and we have worked to overcome so much resistance to this recommendation, to cost, to waste disposal, to supply and demand challenges, to challenging the status quo. The resolve, for now, is each department will have a bin, or more than one, filled and owned by the T/Ls so puddles and leaks can more quickly be addressed by team members prior to more in-depth corrective action. The Element Champion for walking and working surfaces will monitor their use going forward, adjust as needed and the issue will soon be closed.

Chip Management  

This issue we raised at the JHSC Aug. 2017. GM Global Guidelines for Metalworking Fluid Systems recommends chip management be done at the end of each shift. We found some departments weren’t doing chip management at all, and machines would fault out they were so packed with chips. This is a safety issue because bacteria and mold can grow inside stagnating piles of chips, as well as the pools and floods caused by dams of chips inside machines. We wanted more accountability for this throughout the plant, but each department seemed to be doing something different. We are now very close to closing this issue, and while not everything we may have wanted, the proposed solution is visible and accountable, to both us and management. It was not our intention to create more work for fewer people, but chip management is a very important part of our maintenance process that must be properly managed and not overlooked.

New Energy Control Layouts for Low Pressure Coolant and Water

An issue we first became involved with Aug. 2016, when a worker questioned why there are no provisions for low pressure coolant in the lock-out and test procedure, no way to verify stored energy in the LPC lines after lock-out and test, no way to bleed off pressure in the LPC lines for servicing, and no provisions to lock out isolation valves for the LPC supply and return lines to the NTC machines in HFV6. He was concerned this could pose a hazard to cross training personnel unfamiliar with the equipment; that someone could accidentally open the valve while work is being performed on an open line on the opposite side of the machine out of sight of the isolation valves. After a ton of investigation and resource gathering, we opened the issue at the JHSC Jan. 2017. By using the Energy Control Committee, we convinced them that low pressure fluids were an applicable hazardous energy source that should be shown on the lockout map. This involved analyzing the machines and updating 745 lockout maps with the applicable information. This task was added to the Engineering Level 2 scorecard in Aug. 2017, with progress tracked monthly and will finally be closed out by the end of 2018.

New Energy Control Layouts have appeared in all machining departments except for Gen V Head, still to come. All corresponding isolation valves should be identified with a tag on the valve as well as a location on the ECL. These energy sources must now be locked out if they are applicable to the work being done i.e. if you are performing maintenance on the low-pressure fluid circuit. In some cases, the isolation valves are not lockable. Special lock-out devices for these valves are available through the Maintenance T/L or G/L, and these should be stored in all shop safety cabinets as was discussed earlier this year. These devices are referenced on the lockout map instructions if applicable. We acknowledge and appreciate the enormous amount of time and resources it took to address this issue. If you are unsure of an applicable energy source for lock out and test, please consult your Group Leader.

Asbestos Concern Follow up

The first week of Sept. 2018, there was an asbestos exposure concern in Valve Body Machining. Workers were being dripped on from a leaking overhead pipe that was wrapped in asbestos. Water sample testing results revealed no asbestos fibers were present in the drips, and some remedial work was done to address the leak. Since this deteriorating pipe has had 2 major leaks and 3 minor leaks that required asbestos removal, the threat still exists for another leak to occur.  As such, this issue remains open on the Maintenance Level 2 Scorecard with the recommendation to blank off the 5-inch water line that feeds from Agile Block to GF6, drain the pipe and leave it alone, while re-routing the feed from another area of the plant. This will require major funding from the Corporation, and Engineering has submitted a request for that funding. More to come.

New Updates to Orange Crush Zone and Lift Truck Safety Policies

We have just completed updates to both policies that will make our OCZs safer and Lift Truck driver training and expectations clearer. Among other things, driver notification of pedestrians inside an OCZ has been re-enforced, while allowing certain activities some leeway. It really came down to reducing surprises that drivers encountered while doing their jobs inside an OCZ. If someone, say a custodian or a Production G/L shows up at the same time every day, and follows the same path at the same time day after day, drivers can predict when these people will appear so there is no surprise. If for some reason these people cannot make their time window, they are required to follow the notification process. Production and other activities inside OCZs have become more restricted. New driver training requirements are now clearly defined for the first and second week of training as is the time when a new driver may begin driving on their own.


There have been many complaints directed at us and others regarding scheduling and service issues from Knight Facilities Management, as they adjust their workforce. Please direct service complaints to your G/L who can forward them directly to KFM management and also to our Maintenance Manager for follow up.

Safety Countermeasure Sheet – FINAL (002)
ESCP Escalation Tracking Form – FINALv2
EHSCP – Process

Unifor Health and Safety Rep Edward Steers, 905 641 6420, Cell/Text 905 658 3271,
Alternate Unifor Health and Safety Rep Mike Pagano,   905 641 6420, PTT 7440029,