Policy to review workplace safety

Vice-president of operations Ashley Eagan said the policy will be presented in early January 2012

AMS vice-president of operations Ashley Eagan said the AMS isn’t legally obligated to provide employees with WHMIS training.
AMS vice-president of operations Ashley Eagan said the AMS isn’t legally obligated to provide employees with WHMIS training.

The first AMS injury incident report of this academic year was presented to the Board of Directors on Nov. 3.

The report coincides with the creation of the AMS’s first official policy statement on health and safety, set to be finished in January.

AMS officials say details of the injury can’t be released according to the Occupational Health and Safety Act of Ontario but the incident occurred within the The AMS Pub Services (TAPS). Following Queen’s First Aid assistance, the employee returned to work the following day.

The current health and safety mandate within the AMS Operations, Financial and Administrative Manual hasn’t been updated since the 2007-08 academic year.

AMS vice-president of operations Ashley Eagan said the incident and new policy aren’t related.

“This year we plan on making a more formalized policy review schedule to make sure all policy manuals are reviewed on an annual basis rather than randomly,” Eagan said.

The new policy statement will enforce safety procedures, such as filing incident reports, and will put an emphasis on health and safety education.

Safety bulletins will be posted in all AMS services informing about possible workplace hazards.

Eagan said the AMS began working on the new policy in May.

It’s necessary for all AMS workers to file incident reports after an injury, to avoid legal repercussions, she said.

“Their first priority is to seek medical attention if they need it, and then to have their employer fill out the report with them,” Eagan said.

She said it’s problematic that the joint health and safety committee is responsible for creating and maintaining health and safety procedures for AMS services.

“The AMS as a whole needs to be a leader in [health and safety] and allow the health and safety committee to review the procedures in place rather than create them,” Eagan, ArtSci ’11, said, adding that the committee hasn’t changed any policies in recent years.

“Because of the fact that we turn over on an annual basis, unfortunately some things are overlooked.”

The health and safety committee is composed of one manager and one staff member from most AMS services, excluding media services. Eagan said she hoped to have media service representatives included in the committee.

“It’s important just in general to have everyone involved with safety, doesn’t matter which service you’re working in,” she said.

The committee meets once a term and is responsible for investigating workplace injuries and inspections of AMS services.

Eagan said she’ll meet with the health and safety committee on Dec. 2 to discuss the policy’s logistics. It will be collaboratively written with a health and safety subcommittee and will be presented to the Board of Directors and AMS Assembly early January 2012.

“It’s our job as an employer to educate our staff on their rights to refuse unsafe work and this is something that AMS policy is silent on currently,” Eagan said.

After the incident was reported, the AMS considered implementing mandatory Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) training for all AMS staff.

WHMIS is a national hazard communication standard that focuses on teaching the dangers and proper labels for hazardous commercial products.

Eagan said the AMS spoke to Dan Langham, director of environmental health and safety, and found that the AMS isn’t legally obligated to train employees because they don’t use any hazardous commercial materials.

She said Queen’s offers free WHMIS training, but that it didn’t fit in the AMS’s training schedule.

“Consumer products are exempted from WHMIS regulations,” Langham told the Journal via email, adding that they were mostly household cleaning products. “Different warning symbols and container labels is one of the biggest differences between the two systems.”

Langham said it was up to the AMS to decide what training and information is necessary to ensure their workers are safe.

“Household cleaning products tend to be toxic in larger quantities or corrosive,” he said.

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