contract faculty campaign

Health and Safety

Health and Safety Legislation

All Seneca College employees are covered under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act. Article 24 of our Collective Agreement requires the College to make reasonable provision for the conditions of safety and health in our work area by conforming with the provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations (OHSA).

Safety Equipment
Where our job duties require the use of safety equipment as required under the OHSA of Ontario, the College must provide such equipment at no cost to us. Specific eligibility problems are resolved by the Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee at your workplace or by the Central Committee where appropriate. If you require goggles/safety glasses or special clothing or footwear for your work, the College must provide these items.

Room Occupancy and Load Capacity
The Ontario Building Code 1997 establishes room occupancy limits (the minimum number of square feet/metres per person) on the basis of the use of the room.
For instance:

  • classrooms: at least 1.85 sq. m. or 19.9 sq. ft. per person
  • school labs: 4.6 sq. m. or 49.5 sq. ft. per person
  • school shops or vocational rooms: 9.3 sq. m or 100 sq. ft. per person
  • offices: 9.3 sq. m. or 100 sq. ft. per person *

(* Source: Table “Occupant Load” Forming Part of Article, Ontario Building Code)

You can make a quick estimation of the size of your office or classroom by counting the acoustic ceiling tiles which generally measure 2 feet by 4 feet each. Report overcrowded spaces to your Health and Safety reps and your supervisor.

Workplace Violence
Employers and workers should always contact police first in emergency situations – whenever threats or actual violence occurs at a workplace. From a College telephone, call Extension 88 to request police or ambulance services. BE SURE TO STATE YOUR CAMPUS as this extension can sometimes be answered at Newnham.  The Security personnel will guide the police to the affected location on campus. From a cell phone, call 416 491-5050, Ext. 88.

Under Article 4 of our Collective Agreement, we can grieve workplace bullying by other employees, supervisors or by students. The grievance right will usually arise when the college has failed to take appropriate action on being notified, for example, letting a threatening student continue to attend classes.

As of June 2010 (see Part 111.0.1 of the Occupational Heralth and Safety Act), workplace safety now includes protection from violence in the workplace, and from various forms of bullying and harassment in the workplace.This is in addition to protections that might be provided under other laws. Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the employer has a number of responsibilities for assessing the risks of workplace violence. The employer must assess the risk of workplace violence that may arise from the nature of the workplace, type of work or conditions of work [Section 32.0.3(1)]; take into account the circumstances of the workplace and circumstances common to similar workplaces, as well as any other elements prescribed in regulation [Section 32.0.3(2)]; and, develop measures and procedures to control identified risks that are likely to expose a worker to physical injury. These measures and procedures must be part of the workplace violence program [Section 32.0.2(2)(a)].

Workplace violence means:

  • The exercise of physical force by a person against a worker, in a workplace, that causes or could cause physical injury to the worker.
  • An attempt to exercise physical force against a worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker.
  • A statement or behaviour that it is reasonable for a worker to interpret as a threat to exercise physical force against the worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker.

Workplace harassment

  • Workplace harassment means engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to  be unwelcome.
  • Workplace harassment may include bullying, intimidating or offensive jokes or innuendos, displaying or circulating offensive pictures or materials, or offensive or intimidating phone calls.

Domestic violence
Employers who are aware, or ought reasonably to be aware, that domestic violence may occur in the workplace must take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect a worker at risk of physical injury.

Employers and supervisors must provide information to a worker about a risk of workplace violence from a person with a history of violent behaviour if the worker can expect to encounter that person in the course of work, and if the worker may be at risk of physical injury. Personal information may be disclosed, but only what is reasonably necessary to protect the worker from physical injury.

Work refusal
Workers have the right to refuse work if they have a reason to believe they are in danger from workplace violence. Reprisals by the employer are prohibited.

Ministry of Labour health and safety inspectors will enforce the new OHSA provisions for workplace violence and workplace harassment and determine if employers are complying with their new duties.

Joint Occupational Health And Safety Committees
Seneca College has a Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee or health and safety representative at each work site. There is also a Central Health and Safety (H & S) Committee that addresses issues on a college-wide basis. Concerns that have not been resolved by campus committees may be forwarded to the Central Committee for discussion. Support staff, faculty, and management are equally represented on both campus and central H & S Committees. The Central H & S Committee is chaired on a rotational basis by management, support staff and faculty. Muriel McKenna, as your elected Health and Safety Officer, leads the team of five Local 560 members on the Central H & S Committee.

H & S committees make recommendations to the College on health and safety issues that affect Local 560 members. The College is required under the Act to respond within 21 days to these recommendations. If they do not agree with a recommendation, they must state the reason. If they do agree, they must provide a timeline for implementation. If these Committees are to function effectively, it is important that you report any health and safety concerns to your local H & S Committee member or representative or to a Central H & S Committee representative (listed below).

The Health & Safety committees operate according to the Guidelines for the Structure and Function of Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committees at Seneca College.

Are You Interested in Serving on a Health & Safety Committee?
Local 560 is seeking to maintain its strong representation on health and safety committees. Members are encouraged to indicate their interest in becoming involved with campus committees by contacting Muriel McKenna directly (416 491-5050, Ext. 22790). The College is required by law to provide time off to accomplish these duties. Prior knowledge of the Occupational Health and Safety Act is not necessary to be considered for a position on a health and safety committee.

Health and Safety Committee Members 2015

Margo Burtch (Co-Chair)  416 491-5050 Ext. 26332
David Finlay 416 491-5050 Ext. 22431
Larry Olivo (alternate) 416 491-5050 Ext. 22814

Andrej Zile, 416 491-5050 Ext. 44273

Bill Giannos, 905-898-6199 Ext. 256


Frank Yee (Co-Chair) 416 491-5050 Ext. 55312
John Hubbell 416 491-5050 Ext. 55300


Margo Burtch (Co-chair) 416 491-5050 Ext. 26332
David Finlay 416 491-5050 Ext. 22431

Seneca @ York:

Health & Safety — Relevant Documents and Advice

Occupational Health and Safety Act (Revised Statutes of Ontario, 1990)
Once at this site, go to “Statutes of Ontario: Table of Contents” and select “O”
The Ontario Fire Code and The Fire Protection & Prevention Act, 1997
The Ontario Building Code
WHMIS: Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System
WHMIS Hazardous Symbols

SARS: Excellent Detailed Information at these Sites

World Health Organization:
Centers for Disease Control:
Health Canada:
City of Toronto – Public Health Department:
Ontario Nurses Association: