By Emil Mesic and Mike Gibson
Ministry Of Labour Visits
The MOL has been at OAC three times since the last edition of the 707 Reporter. We called the MOL specialist in to test UV radiation on two separate occasions in relation to concerns raised about the new high bay lighting and in relation to workers potentially being affected by UV radiation near mig welding processes in the body build area. The MOL was also called in on a complaint related to ergonomic concerns in the damask area in the paint facility. On the latter visit, the MOL issued a number of orders related to information, instruction and supervision to workers for the correct methods to do the damask work. With respect to the lighting related visits, no overexposures were found. The MOL did find overexposures could occur if workers were exposed to UV radiation for an extended period of time in the robot mig welding and manual welding pick up areas. No orders were issued; however, the employer will need to devise a plan to limit exposures in the future. As always, all MOL visits and orders are posted at all main entrances to the plant including the MSC in Mississauga and the Warranty Parts Centre on Wyecroft Rd. in Oakville. At the time of writing, the Company was also overdue on time weighted orders related to the roof walkways that were unsafe to use in Body 1. Weather and manpower seem to be the excuse. As a public service reminder, if you wish to contact an MOL inspector, they will almost always ask if you discussed your issue with the JH&SC; for that reason, it is helpful that we are made aware of the concerns or complaints calling. The MOL number is 1- 877-202-8777. We believe the correct use of the IRS (Internal Responsibility System) is the best way to deal with safety issues, but nothing precludes a worker’s right to contact an inspector if they so wish.
Fatality At Ford China Plant – Guarding Reviews
There was a terrible accident at a joint Ford China venture plant in April where a skilled tradesperson was entangled in some conveyor parts in a paint facility. Our deepest condolences go out to the family and co-workers of the victim. As a result of this terrible tragedy, the Company is re-examining its conveyor guarding across all of its facilities to ascertain if the current conditions meet Ford safety and related standards. Auditing is underway. If you are aware of any missing guarding please notify your supervisor following the standard protocols.
Confined Space Discussions
The paint facility has indicated it wants to move forward in its quest to declassify a high number of confined spaces related to workers working inside of gas fired heaters and under the grates of the paint booths. The Ford-Unifor Confined Space Program has worked extremely well for over 20 years at the Canadian locations in Oakville, Windsor, Bramble and St. Thomas. Nevertheless, the paint facility wishes to move forward… we have been in contact with the Master Health and Safety Committee on this matter and they have held that the confined spaces they wish to declassify still meet the original definition based on the Canadian Ford-Unifor Confined Space Program. There will be more to come on this issue in future articles.
We have stated in past articles and at meetings that the lighting outside the plant is not up to par. Further we have discussed the Company’s slow efforts to resolve the issue. The project that was set to upgrade the outside lighting was rejected at the corporate level and was downloaded back to the departments. We have been pressing the departments to get the lighting fixed. They are responding with plans to correct the lighting, that are never quick enough. In the meanwhile, all of us need to be vigilant in remaining visible when walking outside; proper PPE and procedures need to be followed.
Reductions, Non-Standard Work, Work In Remote Locations, OIS-JSAs & Students
We remind everyone as we head into the reduction period again that everyone focuses on their OIS/JSAs for their jobs. These documents need to accurately reflect the work that you are doing. If you have been asked to do “pick up job” of some sort, there still needs to be an off standard OIS/JSA that includes the steps and hazards of the job. This includes jobs that have been moved to remote locations including the tunnels. There can be multiple hazards on any job that is set up in an area where people do not usually work. Guarding is not always as robust in areas that are isolated or abandoned. If you have been asked to do non-standard work, demand to see the new OIS/JSA. This is especially true for students. There are hundreds of students who are working in Oakville Assembly this summer, many for the first time. We expect management to follow the correct processes in regards to pre-job training and ongoing periodic job observation for these new workers. If you find or witness a new worker or student being thrown on a job without training, please speak up. Let management and the union know that this is the case. And another note with regards to students, we need to remember they often need our help and direction. Remember they are someone’s daughter or son, little brother or sister etc… Finally, a note to leaders… you have a huge role in ensuring these students get every opportunity to be properly trained. Please continue to keep up the pressure on management to do what they are supposed to do.
Exoskeleton Ergonomic Trial
As many of you may have seen, the Company has brought in a number of exoskeleton vests as part of a wider trial to see if these devices can aid in the many ergonomic concerns related to continual overhead work on the assembly lines especially in chassis. Five vests were procured to Oakville from the corporate ergonomic groups led by Marty Smets in Dearborn. Special thanks go out to the Master Ergonomic Committee led by Thane Smith and the local ergonomic committee. The biggest thanks however go out to those members who accepted the responsibility of wearing and caring for these exoskeleton vests on daily basis during the trial period. More to come on this issue in the future. More info can be found at https://eksobionics.com/
Heat Stress Language And Self Protection
As the summer months approach and the warmer weather arrives, we will inevitably be exposed to severe working conditions related to high heat and humidity. We would like to remind everyone to reread the language negotiated in 2016 Bargaining which can be found in the Local Agreement on pages 32-33. With respect to water distribution, “The company will initiate water distribution within one hour of start of shift on days when the temperature is forecasted by Environment Canada to be at least thirty degrees celsius (30°C). This action will result in an increased distribution of water to employees.” Regarding actual heat relief we invite you to read page 33 which elaborates at what WBGT temperature additional relief will be given. In short, the triggers are 27C WBGT or 30C WBGT depending on where you work. We believe this will be a big help to workers during the hotter days. Nothing stops any worker from asking for additional relief if they are feeling unwell nor asking to go to first aid if necessary. You are the only one who can judge how you feel. A final reminder: The hotter the working conditions, the more fluids are necessary. On a related note, for those working outdoors, protection from the sun’s UV rays is crucial. Covering up, using sun block, a hat and sunglasses is also very important. Heat stress can be harmful and potentially deadly. Take care of yourself first and foremost.
Up and Coming in 2018
The market seems to have slowed down considerably in relation to the products we build. There are extended shutdowns and scheduled down weeks. As we transition into the new model please speak up about any issue that may not be safe with regards to your job. It is easier to fix issues before the actual launch than it is once the processes have been established. The summer months will bring additional opportunities for rest and relaxation. Take every opportunity to give yourselves a break. You deserve it!
Emil Mesic, Mike Gibson, Todd Caird, John Mullin