ETFO Health & Safety Website – Click Here
ETFO-YR Health & Safety Officer: Michael Neve – email@example.com
Safety Inspecting Rep Full-Time: Peter Pendli – firstname.lastname@example.org
Health and Safety Inspecting Rep (Sept-Feb): – email@example.com
Board Joint Health and Safety Committee Members 2023/2024:
Michael Neve, Peter Pendli, VP – Lynda Hockley
Listen to the ETFO town hall on workplace violence
On Wednesday, October 25, 2023, ETFO held a telephone town hall meeting on violence in schools. Members received advice about how to engage in violence-related work refusals in compliance with health and safety legislation, and ETFO’s new checklist for violence resources was shared at reviewed. Results of ETFO’s 2023 All-Member Violence Survey were also discussed.
2023 All-Member Violence Survey shows violence in schools is on the rise
Monday May 15, ETFO released some of the results of the 2023 All Member Violence survey in a media conference. ETFO President Karen Brown, joined by Lisa Dunbar, teacher and ETFO member and Rob Hammond, President, Near North Teacher Local, spoke about the survey results and the issue of violence in elementary schools.
For a video of the media conference and the survey information released at the media conference,
please log into the ♦ Secure Member’s Area ♦
Learn more about ETFO’s Multi-Year Strategy to Address Violence in Schools
Since 2017, ETFO has been engaged in a Multi-Year Strategy to Address Violence in Schools. At etfohealthandsafety.ca you can find out more about what has been done and the next steps in this strategy. Please use and share the resources on workplace violence and worker rights to keep yourself and others safe from violence at work.
Too hot to work?
There is no specific upper temperature limit in the Occupational Health and Safety Act but school boards have a legal duty to “take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of workers” which includes protecting workers from extreme heat.
For further information about site-specific Hot Weather Action Plans see the Provincial Working Group on Health and Safety’s High Temperature Guideline and other resources.
- Flow Chart for ALL Accident/Incidents at Work (rev Sept 2021)
- Work Refusal Flowchart (Refer to Policy Procedure 540.0; Sect 2.4.3 )
- H&S School Inspection Steward Letter
- H&S School Inspection Survey Letter
Teacher surveys are sent out to Stewards approximately one month prior to school inspections providing our members the opportunity to voice their concerns and participate in the process.
If a health/safety issue/hazard regarding your school exists at any time during the school year, report it at once to the principal as required by law (Health and Safety Act).
General Information (UPDATED Sept. 2021)
Anytime an accident or near miss incident occurs at work, including near miss incidents and accidents related to COVID PPE or disinfectants, report the incident to the Principal and complete an online Accident Incident Report e-Form. Forms are completed electronically on the BWW. Go into “Self Serve” and then “E-Forms”. All incidents of Violence directed toward a worker must be reported using this Form. “Violence” is defined in the H&S Act as a) the exercise of physical force by a person against a worker in a workplace that causes or could cause physical injury; b) an attempt to exercise physical force against a worker in a workplace that could cause physical injury to a worker; or c) a statement of behaviour that is reasonable for a worker to interpret as a threat to exercise physical force against a worker in the workplace that could cause physical injury to the worker.
It is mandatory that all Violent Incidents (as defined above) directed at a worker are reported using the Board Accident/Incident Reporting Form NP540-02 regardless of the offending persons age or other mitigating circumstances.
During Site Inspection pre meetings with Administrators we ensure that Safety Plans, Truncated Plans and Individual Action Plans are in place and that they have been communicated / shared with all staff that may be expected to encounter the person in the course of their work. Staff members are to sign off on a Notification of Risk of Injury Form A or B to indicate that the Plan has been shared with them.
A Formal Work Concern requires that teachers notify their administrator of a health and safety hazard/concern and if unresolved contact their Health and Safety representative. The H&S representative may fill out Form P540-01 in consultation with the worker. Work Concerns have focused around – cold temperatures in the building (less than 68), air quality, drinking water, Pediculosis, Public Health Outbreaks, insufficient parking stalls, and rodents. The most frequent Concerns are related to student violence (Safety Plans are not in place or shared, shortage of staff, PPE not provided, and there is confusion around duties to Report)
There has also been a focus on Reporting Violent Incidents as per the Responsibility of workers through the Ministry of Education PPM 145 using the Safe School Incident Reporting Forms. Safe Schools Incident Reporting Form Part 1 must be completed on line electronically on the BWW (Self-Serve, E-Forms) by any Board Employee who witnesses or becomes aware of any student behavior that has a negative impact on school climate, and could lead to possible Suspension or Expulsion. A list of the behaviors is included on the Reporting Form. A response Form, Part 2 is completed by the Administrator and returned to the Employee within 72 hours to confirm receipt of Part 1. The Administrator may use Mitigating circumstances when considering their decision to suspend or expel a student. Administrators are responsible for ensuring that the parents of victims are notified when an incident has been reported and a student (victim) has been harmed.
WHMIS training was provided for employees to introduce WHMIS 2015. The new WHMIS legislation updates/modifies the system of controlled products (chemicals) in our workplaces. It addresses New classifications, requirements for labeling & Safety Data Sheets. MSDS/ SDS Binders (Art, Science and Office General) are kept in the main office.
Sites are required to participate in two annual Lockdown Drills. The first drill to be completed during Safety Week in September. The second, early in the Second Term. Lockdown Procedure Posters should be posted in all occupied rooms. Classroom keys are to be made available to OT’s. Sites are also required to practice one Hold and Secure Drill annually (Fall Term).
The Plant Department has developed a Guideline/Q & A for summer classroom clean-up expectations, for teachers moving classrooms and for schools moving buildings. It outlines expectations for principals, teachers, and caretaking staff, and deals with curriculum materials, furniture and personal items. It is important that staff have permission from the Principal to be in the building outside of the regular school hours (evenings and weekends), and over the summer holidays.
For concerns with cold temperatures in the classroom and winter conditions , members can refer to the Q & A on “Shoulder Months”, and Board Procedure NP464.
All sites built prior to 1987 have an Asbestos Management Program (Binder). Information is to be shared with staff on an annual basis. Notification of all abatement work is to be shared with appropriate staff prior to work being done.
All torn and missing screen windows must be reported to caretaking and Admin. Immediately to prevent wasps from entering into the classroom.
When members become aware of evidence of rodents/mice they are to contact Caretaking immediately and notify the Principal. They (members) are “not” to clean it up. There is a Board Procedure for Caretaking to follow when cleaning.
All entrances to the school and to Portables require adequate floor matting to prevent water being tracked in and to prevent slips, trips and falls. If there is not adequate matting , notify your administrator.
Health and Safety is everyone’s responsibility. You are part of the Internal Responsibility System
During the ETFO Annual Meeting in August, violence in the classroom was brought up
frequently. It is possibly the number one concern among teachers throughout Ontario schools.
Here in York Region, we have seen a rise in violence committed by students against our
educators. Sadly, one question is often asked repeatedly. What can we do to address this
Many years ago, our former Health and Safety Officer came into my school to help address a
violence issue that was occurring daily. His advice to us seven years ago is the advice I offer
today. It is your duty and responsibility to report any acts of violence (e.g., threats, near misses
and actual contact). It is only when staff fill out the accident / incident forms can change begin
to occur. I do remember the words of our former Health and Safety Officer that day. Change
will not happen overnight. It does not happen with just one teacher filling out one form. Change
occurs when many voices rise up and report acts of violence within a school.
If you find yourself experiencing violence within the classroom, do not suffer in silence. There
are many steps you can take to empower yourself when you feel powerless in your classroom.
1. You have a right to bring your concerns to your principal. They have an obligation
under the Ontario Health and Safety Act to address your concerns.
2. Fill out the accident / incident forms and the safe school forms. Do not suffer in silence.
No one has the right to work in an unsafe environment.
3. Your administrators have 24 hours to respond to the accident / incident form and 72
hours to respond to the safe school form.
4. If you are not receiving a response to the Safe Schools forms, immediately reach out
and contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me at (905) 758-7176. I am
always willing to help.
It is time for all of us to stand up and say, “Enough Is Enough”. We all deserve a safe working
Your Health and Safety Team at ETFO-YR.
Welcome back to another exciting year in education. As you settle into your classroom, we would like to remind you of several things to consider when you start to hang items around your room and as you create a welcoming space for your students.
There have been a lot of inquiries regarding fadeless paper or fabric on bulletin boards. We are all used to creating colourful, welcoming environments for our students. We have been in communication with the Health and Safety Department at the Board Office, raising many of your concerns. Sadly, fadeless paper and fabric are considered fire hazards. In an effort to reduce the amount of flammable material on our bulletin boards (fadeless paper plus student work), we are requesting that fadeless paper or fabric be removed. You are still able to use colourful borders to brighten up the space. We understand that it is not the same as a bright green or yellow bulletin board; however, colourful borders are the best we can suggest.
Here are several other things to consider when you are setting up your classroom in the month of September.
- Please do not decorate your doors. The fire marshall has been very clear. Anything on your door is a fire hazard, especially when it is the only route to safety.
- Any decorations around your door must be one meter away from the opening. The only exception to this rule are posters that are for the safety of the students (e.g., Warning of Life Threatening Food Allergies, COVID signage, etc.).
- Make sure all exits are clear of items. If there was a fire, you need to be able to exit the room without tripping over shoes or toys.
- Use proper Board approved (ordered through Purchasing) metal clips when hanging items from the ceiling.
- Any hanging material must have a clearance of seven feet. This will prevent items from being hit by a mop handle or by an excited student.
- You must not have any cleaners in your room from your home (e.g., Lysol wipes, bleach, etc.). These chemicals have a negative reaction to the cleaners used by the caretakers.
These are just a few things you will need to consider when setting up your classroom.
We wish you all the best in the coming school year. We look forward to visiting your school over the next several months.
Your ETFO-YR Health and Safety Team.
Now that the focus is no longer on COVID, the Fire Prevention Officers have begun to identify issues that need attention. These areas include:
- Combustibles on doors,
- Items that are hanging too low from the ceiling
- Items in Kindergarten vestibules
- Items in stairwells,
- More than 20 percent of walls covered and,
- Items on the top shelf of bookcases and storage shelving.
The Health and Safety people at the board have also started to shift their attention to a variety of concerns. These concerns include:
- Hepa units in the kindergarten and special education classes are not turned on or missing,
- Foam puzzle pieces being used in place of carpets and vinyl mats,
- Cord covers missing for AV carts,
- Windows left covered after lock down drills,
- Portable doors left unlocked and,
- Safety plans that have not been signed off by all the staff.
In all these cases, we are the ones who have to relay these messages to the staff. Remember, we are there to identify concerns and to make sure you are safe in your workplace. Our role is to protect staff, ensure everyone is following protocols and to ensure that in the event of an accident investigation, staff are protected. We are not here to make your life difficult. We are here to work with you and to support you.
With the dark mornings and the overcast conditions of the Canadian winter, we must all be extra diligent when walking around the school. You have the right to a safe workplace. These are some steps you can take to keep yourself safe.
Keep your eyes open to the hazards around you (e.g., icy parking lots, slippery floors, snow pants and boots in the hallway). All these are all hazards that may contribute to a slip, trip and fall.
If you see slippery conditions, notify your caretaker or administration immediately. You have a right to participate in your own safety in the workplace.
Wear proper footwear. Appropriate winter footwear may include non-slip, thick soled winter boots or shoes which may include grippers for the outside. Also, dry your footwear before entering the building.
Take your time. Do not rush. If you rush and stop paying attention to your surroundings, you are at a greater risk of being injured. Take short steps and take it slow. “Slow and steady wins the race.”
Do not carry too many things at once. It can prevent you from seeing the hazards around you. Try to keep one hand free so you can use a handrail going up the stairs in the school or portable.
Use the paths cleared by your caretakers. They have been salted for your safety. Do not take shortcuts. The conditions may be slippery.
If you have slipped or fallen, fill out an accident / incident report. You may not have broken a bone; however, you may have strained a muscle. It is important to document, even if you feel fine at the time.
When it comes to critical injuries, many think of the loss of a limb, loss of a lot of blood or loss of an eye. Remember, critical injuries also include a loss of consciousness or a broken bone. If you have lost consciousness due to a fall or broken a bone, fill out the accident, incident form and indicate it is a critical injury.
If you have experienced a critical injury, you must apply for WSIB as soon as possible. Your administration will submit a form 7 on your behalf. You will need to have a doctor fill out Form 8. It is important to get all this in place, just in case you have to take time off due to a concussion or a broken bone. Remember, if you are unable to fill out the WSIB form, your administration can fill it out on your behalf.
If you have any questions, please contact your union or send us an email at HealthAndSafety@etfo-yr.on.
Know Your Safety Rights
Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, you are protected against reprisals for exercising your right to refuse unsafe work.
ETFO has excellent online resources about your workplace rights and responsibilities. Click below for a few tools, and visit etfohealthandsafety.ca for more info.
· Poster – You Have the Right to Refuse Unsafe Work
· Tip sheet – Your Rights and Your Employer’s Duties
From The Desks of Michael Neve, Peter Pendli and Sangeetha Stephen
Health and Safety Message: November Edition
Over the past week, we have had quite a few questions regarding school inspections. The most common one is “We are having our Health and Safety visit November 22nd . I have just found out we have a Health and Safety inspection on December 7th. Is this a mistake?”
Starting this year, each school will have a health and safety inspection every month. These visits will be completed by either an ETFO inspector, a CUPE member supporting the caretakers, or from a CUPE member supporting the DECE’s, support staff and office staff. The Ministry of Labour requires all work places to be inspected every month.
You will only receive a survey if an ETFO inspector is assigned to your school for that month. Your principal has received a schedule. Your principal will know which union is visiting the school. If an ETFO inspector is scheduled to visit your school, you will receive an email with a link to a survey. We encourage everyone to fill out the surveys. If you do not receive an email with a survey link, please check your junk mail. Sadly, some of our emails containing the survey links end up in the spam folder.
Remember, do not wait for us to visit your school if you have a health and safety concern. Report your concerns to the Principal immediately. You are required by law to report a workplace concern. You are also protected from reprisals if you report your concerns to the Principal.
Remember, a safe workplace starts with you.
From Your Health and Safety Team.
- Medical Grade ASTM masks and non-fit N95 will continue to be provided to staff
- Unless directed to wear for specific circumstances, the wearing of masks is optional
- Staff may wear their own personal masks.
- Eyewear protection must be worn when disinfecting
- Staff will continue to use PDQ for disinfecting. As schools run out of PDQ they will be switching over to ”PREempt”, a product that is already being used in the Special Education classrooms.
- As with the PDQ, Instructions for use for the PREempt must be posted in classrooms, gyms, libraries and anywhere the product is used.
- PDQ and PREempt must be properly stored away from students.
- Tech wipes cannot be used to sanitize materials, equipment or surface areas. They can only be used to sanitize hands.
- Report any missing or torn screen windows to Admin so that they can be replaced/repaired to prevent wasps from entering
“Violence” is defined in the H&S Act as:
a) the exercise of physical force by a person against a worker in a workplace that causes or could cause physical injury;
b) an attempt to exercise physical force against a worker in a workplace that could cause physical injury to a worker; or
c) a statement of behaviour that is reasonable for a worker to interpret as a threat to exercise physical force against a worker in the workplace that could cause physical injury to the worker.
It is mandatory that all Violent Incidents (as defined above) directed at a worker are reported using the Board Accident/Incident Reporting Form NP540-02 regardless of the offending persons age or other mitigating circumstances ***(eg. Age or Cognitive Ability) ***
The Accident/Incident Report Form is found online on the BWW in the Employee Self-Serve section under the My eForms tab.
Incidents of violence involving students may also have to be reported using the Board online Safe School Reporting Form
Sites with individuals with a history of violence are required to develop a site NVCI Plan. For individuals with a history of violence, a Safety Plan/Truncated Safety Plan or an Individual Action Plan must be created, and shared with all staff who can be expected to encounter the individual in the course of their work.
Where any member develops Covid-like symptoms requiring them to stay home from work, and believes the symptoms were the result of a workplace encounter, they should complete a Board online e-form – “P540-02 Accident/Incident Reporting Form”. The member should indicate on the Form that it is a “possible exposure”. Include the date and times of the possible exposure to/transmission of Covid-19, and give the details of the individuals they were in contact with and the symptoms that these individuals were exhibiting at that time. Do not use individuals’ names (refer to them as staff and/or students). Notify your Principal if you have confirmation of Covid through testing. Continue to watch for announcements and Q & A’s on the Board’s “School Reopening Staff Site” on the BWW for information and direction on reporting.
If you believe you were exposed to Covid in the workplace you can also complete a “WSIB Workers Exposure Incident Form”, available on the WSIB website.
Any worker has the individual right to refuse work that they believe is unsafe. There are resources available on ETFO’s Health and Safety website to help understand the process at http://etfohealthandsafety.ca/site/workers-rights/. The resources include:
- A tip sheet of worker rights including the right to refuse;
- A checklist for members to help determine if their workplace is safe; and
- A video explaining the right to refuse.
YRDSB Policy/Procedure 540 Work Concern/Refusal Process
- As per the Health and Safety Act – You must inform your Supervisor/ Principal of all workplace health and safety hazards. If your concern is not resolved you should contact the ETFO-YR Health and Safety Officer (contact information is on the Health and Safety Board). After investigating the concern, a Work Concern Form P540-01 may be completed by your ETFO-YR Health & Safety Officer.
- If you are in imminent risk of danger and you have “reason to believe” that your work is “likely to endanger” your health and safety, you have the Right to Refuse unsafe work. Contact the ETFO-YR Office or Health and Safety Officer if you have any questions regarding the Work Refusal process. (Policy/Procedure 540.0; Sect 2.4.3).
- PDQ replaces ES15 (If ES15 is found, stop using it and return the bottle to caretaking for replacement with PDQ) PDQ Instructions must be posted in your work area.
- Eye Protection is required for use (face shield, safety glasses or goggles)
- In academic areas this product must be secured (ie stored to prevent student access such as in a locked cupboard, office or cabinet) by staff when not in use.
- Elementary students must not use disinfectant products.
- Special education classes will continue to use PREempt for cleaning and disinfecting classroom shared items and items contaminated with bodily fluids.
- Staff now have the option of wearing an ASTM-rated medical mask or non-fit-tested N95 masks
- Must wear Board issued PPE
COVID Protocol Highlights
1. Designated Eating Rooms
- Ensure occupancy load is posted for all designated eating rooms: Occupancy load is to allow for 2m distancing between unmasked individuals
- Chairs must face the same direction
- Ensure there is sign in system that included “Date and times” for the purposes of contact tracing: All members (Board Employees) must sign-in when eating in designated eating rooms
2. Disinfectant (ES15)
- Ensure ES 15 instructions are posted in all rooms where disinfectant is used (PreEmpt instructions will be posted in Special Education rooms where used)
- Ensure that members are following instructions/protocols when using the product: Ensure that ES15 is put on to the paper towel and not directly onto the surface of the item being disinfected. Allow for 5 min. contact time
- ES15 must be properly stored (out of sight and out of reach of students) when not in use
- Students MUST NOT use ES15 or any other sanitizing/disinfecting products
- Board Employees are expected to wear Board provided PPE (Face Masks and Eyewear Protection) unless they have a Board approved accommodation
- When within 6 ft of an unmasked student, eye protection must be worn ie. When working with unmasked kindergarten students, or engaging with unmasked students during recess or snack time
- Members should have eyewear protection with them at all times, in case they encounter an unmasked individual and cannot maintain 2m physical distancing.