Using the Employee Safety Concern Process

Edward Steers and Mike Pagano want to thank you, the membership we humbly represent, for your overwhelming support in the recent election. Progress will continue…

Using the Employee Safety Concern Process

From day one when we started this job in 2016, we recognized the importance of supporting the Employee Safety Concern Process, and our role as your representatives in that process. As workers, it’s our duty under the law to raise health and safety concerns to our employer, and it’s their duty under the law to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker. By making our safety concerns known directly to our T/Ls and G/Ls, the onus is placed on our employer to address the concern. If the concern cannot be addressed by the end of the shift, documenting concerns in the ESCP ensures the concern is captured and tracked, and provides accountability above verbal communication, when issues can get lost. Our role in part is to help ensure the process is followed and resolved to the satisfaction of the member or team who raised the concern. By supporting the process, we can help build trust in the process and make it work for us. If safety concerns that are raised are taken seriously and get resolved in a timely manner to our satisfaction, this adds value to the process and it will get used more. We are beginning to see evidence of this.

The ESCP is still a paper process, basically sheets in a binder that barely hang on the board for 2 months in some departments before they are removed and discarded. We have developed our own method of capturing these sheets electronically, so we may retain the data they contain establishing some history. This is extremely useful when a concern receives the barest consideration for resolution before it’s closed out and this is why capturing your concerns in the ESCP is so important. Documented safety concerns provide evidence that we are attempting to do our duty under the law, but it may also highlight where the employer may need to do more to fulfil their duty under the law to take every precaution necessary under the circumstances for the protection of a worker. This is part of the Internal Responsibility System, and we, your Reps are expected to exhaust this system before turning to the Ministry of Labour for help. Having documented evidence showing all avenues of the IRS have been explored in our attempts to resolve an issue before calling the MOL lends credibility to our argument when asking for their help resolving the issue.

We now have several examples how we use the ESCP. When documented and closed issues reappear on the floor, a simple cut and paste of the issue into an email asking the BT for additional countermeasures effectively reopens the issue for proper resolution. We have found in some BTs the one-year retention period is ignored and safety concerns go straight to trash after 2 months, losing the data they contain which builds mistrust. We have been working with Staff towards a one-year retention period for ESCs on the board, so closed issues can be referenced by you if your issue reappears. We are told ESCs will now be retained for the current year plus one year. They might not be on the board, but at least they will not be in the trash.

PPE Review

Hand lacerations are a chronic, major cause of injuries in all departments affecting both Production and Skilled Trades workers. Everything we touch is sharp meaning our full attention is required so we don’t become injured, but over time we can become distracted or begin to believe our skin is thicker than it truly is.
To resolve an ESC in HFV6 Crank, the JHSC with the help of the Element Champion for PPE, conducted a review of gloves used on some jobs, particularly chip management. Crank Ops on the rough end tend to develop chip balls that entangle around tooling and require workers to physically reach in to remove them using their hands. This very hazardous task has sent workers to the hospital with hand lacerations that required stitches to close. The glove vendor who supplies our plant was contacted and attended a meeting where we described what we were looking for, asking if there were options that could be provided for review. We selected a high cuff rubber coated Kevlar gauntlet type glove that is both chemical and cut level 5 resistant, the highest rating short of armour. These were made available exclusively to the 3 workers who perform this task and with their feedback and approval, resolved the concern.

Nitrile gloves are another issue, as they have become the go to glove for a high number of maintenance workers since they offer great dexterity and work great for keeping hands clean, but they can tear easily and offer no protection against cut or puncture. What’s interesting with nitrile is some of our production assembly workers concerned for their exposure to RP chemical residues on some of the supplier parts they handle, will wear nitrile over regular PU and cut resistant gloves during their rotation. When they rotate to the next job stripping off the nitrile glove leaves the chemical behind, so they don’t continue to be exposed by their regular gloves throughout the day. Nitrile over regular gloves might be an option for maintenance workers on dirty jobs that don’t require ultra-fine dexterity. For those jobs that do require fine dexterity, the glove vendor has also provided samples of double thick 8 mil nitrile gloves we can review for certain tasks. We have samples of these in the H&S office for anyone who wishes to try them. We are also working on bulk dispensers for medicated hand cream mounted on oasis stations, for workers with skin issues from wearing gloves all day.

Gen V Piston Pushers Update

Sprains and strains are also a major cause of injuries, so what are we doing about repetitive strain injuries? On Friday Jan. 25, Taylor Dempster and Edward Steers initiated a special Sprains and Strains/Ergonomics Committee meeting to discuss Gen V Piston Pushers. We noticed they have experienced 4 similar injuries in the past few months that we believe to be RSI related. We asked to have an independent ergonomic assessment of the jobs in this area, to gather data to enable us to determine if changes are needed to prevent any further injuries. We engaged ergonomic experts from Detroit and the National Union to jointly conduct the assessment and review the data. We now have some tangible recommendations for the team to try to reduce forces for Team members, as well as a commitment for further review if we have of any more injuries.
If anyone is experiencing work related symptoms of injury on any job, we strongly encourage early reporting of these symptoms, so we can identify and control job-related risk factors. Talk to your Team, T/L or G/L, and report to Medical if you believe your job is causing you pain. Report ergonomic concerns using the Employee Safety Concern Process. The Level 5 sheets have a check box for ergo concerns that drive escalation for appropriate resolution. See us or call us anytime to help.

2019 Metalworking Fluids Exposure Assessment Update

The week of February 25, the company performed part one of the metalworking fluids aerosol exposure assessment. For three days, we accompanied GM Regional Industrial Hygienists throughout the plant to do multiple air measurements column to column. Data from this assessment is posted on Sharepoint but we are still awaiting the map. Personal sampling of individuals from 9 areas who came forward to volunteer to wear an exposure monitor for 8 hours took place throughout the month of April. We still have 3 areas to test. Results were shared with the first half of these volunteers who were on days last week. We did miss some so please contact us next time you are on days. Preliminary results of the data show exposure readings have improved since the last aerosol map in 2014. This could be a result of our focus on air quality through the Air Quality Committee and the work we have been able to achieve through that committee. All our 2016 Bargaining demands for air quality have been achieved through the AQC since its inception, including three washer ventilation upgrades totaling over $200K in Mod 3 Block and Head. This and other initiatives in Mod 3 and throughout the plant have made noticeable improvements in the plant air quality, and we are grateful for these improvements. However, we will remain vigilant improving maintenance and operation of our equipment and will continue working to identify areas of focus to reduce exposure levels to as low as possible within the framework of our Collective Agreements and GM Standards.


Pig Mats

Pig mats are now being delivered by GSC to machining POU racks throughout the plant, with help thanks to the Element Champion for Walking and Working Surfaces. T/Ls are busy enough and it was unrealistic to expect them to go all the way to the stockroom for pig mats. They can now take a few steps to collect them locally and keep their bin stocked where they are needed most, on the machining lines. We will continue to audit these bins, but initially it looks like this process is working well. Please call if you have any issues.

As always, if you need help or have a question regarding Health and Safety call, text, email us or knock.


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,