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CUPE’s Health and Safety Policy Statements, the first adopted by National Convention in 1977 and the second adopted in 2001, affirm the need for a comprehensive definition of occupational health and safety, as a foundation upon which to create a healthy and safe work environment. Health and safety are intimately related. One cannot be discussed in isolation from the other.  Since the purpose of a sound health and safety program must be the eradication of occupational illnesses and accidents, we must go to the source of the problem by identifying and eliminating the causes.  Prevention must be front and centre.  The Committee supports the definition of occupational health and safety adopted by the International Labour Organization (ILO) as follows: 

  • The promotion and maintenance of the highest degree of physical, mental and social well being of workers in all occupations;
  • The prevention among workers of departures from health caused by their working conditions;
  • The protection of workers in their employment from risk resulting from factors adverse to health;
  • The placing and maintenance of the workers in an occupational environment adapted to his/her physiological and psychological condition. 

1.      Objectives of CUPE’S National Health and Safety Committee

CUPE’s National Health and Safety Committee provides a leadership role in occupational health and safety for all CUPE members.  To do this, the Committee recommends measures, programs and campaigns to the national union ensuring that health and safety issues stay at the forefront.  The goals include - but are not limited to - the following objectives: 

  1. To address occupational health and safety concerns by reviewing and evaluating health and safety programs, to determine their effectiveness, and, in consultation with the appropriate National Departments and other National committees, recommend changes as required.
  2. To advise CUPE’s National Executive Board and help influence national issues by providing assistance and guidance in implementing national health and safety campaigns.
  3. To invite the National Executive Board to refer issues of occupational health and safety to the National Committee and to monitor and report to the CUPE National Executive Board on the effectiveness of measures, programs and campaigns on a regular basis.
  4. To participate in national campaigns and help integrate health and safety concerns into national campaigns when relevant.
  5. To pursue opportunities to meet with other National committees (e.g., women’s, anti-privatization, environment) for the purposes of working together on issues of common interest.
  6. To increase National Committee members’ knowledge about occupational health and safety issues.
  7. To monitor, maintain and report on CUPE workplace health and safety programs to ensure adherence to the ILO definition of health and safety and to ensure functioning and effective workplace committees.
  8. To ensure adherence to the ILO definition by proposing measures for education, collective bargaining, legislation, policy and local terms of reference.
  9. To promote and raise awareness of the Day of Mourning, April 28th, and to reinforce CUPE’s involvement in the development of this day.
  10.  To assist in the development of resolutions related to national occupational health and safety issues.
  11.  To provide tools, resources and training for health and safety committees at all levels.
  12.  To report and make recommendations to CUPE National Convention to help ensure a safe and healthy workplace for all workers. 

2.    Committee Roles and Responsibilities

The National Health and Safety Committee members are accountable to CUPE’s membership and the National Executive Board.  The Committee is committed to fulfilling the following: 

1.    Meet a minimum of twice per year, with sufficient time allotted to deal with all business.  Emergency meetings will be held at the call of the Chair and a National Officer.

2.    To promote input from all regions of the country, the Committee will request approval to hold their meetings in different regions on a rotating basis whenrequired.  Meetings will be open to CUPE members, Divisions and Councils as observers. Where practical, the Committee will participate in any local initiatives that will benefit the membership and support provincial and local committees.

3.    Act on occupational health and safety issues raised by the National Officers and National Executive Board.

4.    Implement the National Health and Safety Committee’s Action Plan, as developed or amended from time to time.

5.    Report at and make recommendations to the CUPE National Convention to help ensure a safe and healthy workplace for all CUPE members.

6.    Members of the Committee shall have been active in health and safety.  They shall have at least 30-hours of CUPE-recognized health and safety training; if they do not meet this requirement, the National Union shall provide such training.

7.    Plan and stage a National Health and Safety Conference every two years.

8.    After each National Health and Safety Conference the Committee shall meet to evaluate the conference and develop/recommend resolutions for the next National Convention.

9.    At the first scheduled Committee meeting after each National Convention, the Committee shall meet to consider those resolutions passed and to prioritize and develop a plan of action for the next two years.

10.  The committee will ensure an exchange of information between divisions, report on trends and assist the National Health and Safety Branch to create and maintain a national database of health and safety activists.

11.  The Committee will promote its action plan and ensure a two-way flow of information.  Committee members will deliver a written report at each meeting, taking appropriate information from the National Committee to divisions, executive boards, committees or locals.

12.  The Committee will promote and encourage the free flow of information among and between national committees.

13.  The Committee, as required, shall consider revisions to these Terms of Reference for submission to the National President. 

3.    Committee Chair

The National President will appoint the Committee Co-Chairs.  The Co-Chair appointments shall be reviewed after two years, following National Convention. 

The National Health and Safety Committee Chair will: 

1.    Prepare the agenda prior to each meeting.
2.    Be responsible for conducting the Committee meeting.
3.    Try to bring consensus on issues discussed at the meeting.
4.    Act on Committee recommendations.
5.    Have signing authority for correspondence on the Committee’s behalf.

In the absence of the Chair, the Co-Chair shall assume all the duties of the Chair. Chairing duties shall be rotated, unless one Chair is absent from a meeting, in which case chairing duties fall back on the Chair that is present. 

4.   National Executive Board Liaison 

The National Executive Board will appoint one of its members to sit as an ex-officio member on the CUPE National Health and Safety Committee. It will be his/her responsibility to report on behalf of the National Health and Safety Committee to the National Executive Board. 

The Committee will submit a written report of its activities and advise the National Executive Board about new or emerging health and safety issues. This report will be presented to the Board by the National Executive Board liaison at the completion of their biannual meetings and at any emergency meetings that might be held. 

5.   Staff

The National President will appoint a staff liaison to: 

  1. Provide advice and assistance to the Committee.
  2. Assist the Committee Chair to prepare the meeting agenda.
  3. Ensure minutes are recorded and distributed to all members and alternates.
  4. Assist the Committee to prepare their report to National Convention.
  5. Ensure clerical assistance is provided as required.
  6. Provide assistance with meeting arrangements, travel and accommodation. 

Regionally-based Health and Safety Representatives shall be invited to attend the meetings as guests. 

Received by National Executive Board – March 2013