Human Resources Procedures/Guidelines
Dispute Resolution Process

Category: Health and Safety
Sub-Category: General

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Purpose

The City of Toronto’s Occupational Health and Safety Policy states that “protecting the health and safety of its employees is a commitment of the highest priority”. It is anticipated, therefore, that health and safety issues raised by joint health and safety committees (JHSCs)/OH&S Representatives will be appropriately addressed at the local/divisional level, with the workplace parties [workers, management, JHSCs/OH&S Representatives and occupational health and safety staff (when needed)] making in good faith sincere efforts to resolve health and safety concerns.

When issues are not resolved, despite the efforts of the workplace parties at the local/divisional level, JHSCs/OH&S Representatives may table issues in dispute with the Occupational Health and Safety Coordinating Committee (OHSCC). The OHSCC will:

  1. Review health and safety issue(s) referred through this process
  2. Seek to identify potential resolutions to the issue(s) in dispute
  3. Where potential means of achieving resolution are identified, make recommendations to the workplace parties to resolve the issue(s). Recommendations may be forwarded to senior management of the division from which the dispute originated, to supervisory staff, to JHSCs/OH&S Representatives or to staff in other City divisions who have the ability to positively contribute to resolution of the issues raised.

Criteria for Tabling a Dispute Resolution Form with the OHSCC

This Dispute Resolution Form and Process assumes that the following actions have already been taken:

  1. Any worker(s) who have health and safety concerns have already brought these concerns to the attention of their supervisor, with a request to have the concerns addressed. A Hazard Reporting Form can be used for this purpose.
  2. If the issue remained outstanding after supervisory involvement, the issue was tabled with the JHSC/OH&S Representative and a written recommendation to management was made, as follows:

    • A written recommendation agreed through consensus was signed by the co-chairs of the JHSC and forwarded to management for response within 21 days, or
    • A written recommendation could not be achieved through consensus and one co-chair made a unilateral written recommendation to management, or
    • In the absence of a JHSC, a recommendation was made to management by the OH&S Representative for response with 21 days, and

    [Note: The City’s JHSC Recommendations Guideline may assist the JHSC/OH&S Representative in making recommendations to management].

  3. The JHSC/OH&S Representative has determined that management’s response to the recommendation(s) was either not acceptable to the JHSC/OH&S representative or a response from management to the recommendation was not received within the legislatively-required time frame of 21 days
  4. Efforts to have the issue addressed through the senior manager of the JHSC/OH&S Representative's service area and occupational health and safety staff have not been successful.

[Note: Please refer to the City's JHSC Recommendations Guideline for guidance regarding making and following up on JHSC/OH&S Representative recommendations to management]

The Dispute Resolution Form and Process are not intended to restrict in any way the right of employees, JHSCs or OH&S representatives to contact the Ministry of Labour (MOL) if they have health and safety concerns or feel that health and safety legislation has not been complied with. The OHSCC recognizes and respects the jurisdiction of the MOL to address all such concerns. However, following of internal City processes prior to contacting the MOL is encouraged. In the event that the MOL is contacted by the workplace parties to address a health and safety concern, the dispute resolution process should not be initiated to address that concern. In the event that, after a Dispute Resolution Form is submitted, the MOL is contacted regarding the issue that is the subject of the dispute, the Dispute Resolution Form will be considered withdrawn. MOL Orders and Visits are summarized for the OHSCC at each meeting (as a standing item). If any subsequent action is determined to be necessary with respect to the issue that was in dispute, it will be dealt with during discussion of MOL Orders and Visits.


Process

  • A JHSC or an OH&S representative receives and reviews management’s response to its written recommendation (consensus-based or unilateral written recommendation). If management's response is unclear, prompt clarification should be requested.
  • If a JHSC or an OH&S representative determines that the above-listed criteria apply with respect to that response, an Occupational Health and Safety Dispute Resolution Form may be completed. This form, once completed, should be forwarded, with associated documentation, to the Secretary of the OHSCC by e-mail, fax or interoffice mail. The Form and associated documentation should be forwarded as a separate item, not simply be included in JHSC minutes. Associated documentation includes:

    • Hazard Reporting Forms in the JHSC's possession, if any, with respect to the issue in dispute
    • Minutes of the JHSC meeting(s) at which the issue in dispute was discussed
    • Copies of any recommendations to management (consensus-based or unilateral)
    • The recommendations made were copied to the senior manager (director or above) and the health and safety consultant who provides service to the division
    • If a recommendation was unilateral:

      1. A summary of the position of the members of the committee who supported the recommendations.
      2. A summary of the position of the members of the committee who did not support the recommendations.
      3. Information about how the committee attempted to reach consensus,
    • Copies of management's responses
    • Other documentation that may assist the OHSCC in assessing the issue(s) in dispute. It should be recognized that the parties with the greatest understanding of the issue are those that plan, perform and supervise the work.
  • A JHSC or OH&S Representative may submit a Dispute Resolution Form to the OHSCC in the event that a response to a Health and Safety Recommendation is not received within 21 days. In such cases, the division head will be forwarded OHSCC correspondence asking that the recommendation receive an immediate response. The correspondence will be tabled with the OHSCC at its next meeting.
  • When consensus on submitting a Dispute Resolution Form is achieved, the Dispute Resolution Form, signed by both co-chairs, will be forwarded (with associated documentation attached) to the secretary of the OHSCC. Should one co-chair decline to sign the Dispute Resolution Form, the other co-chair may sign and forward it to the Secretary of the OHSCC, if all appropriate documentation for a unilateral written recommendation is attached.
  • Unless documentation tabled with the Dispute Resolution Form demonstrate efforts to resolve concerns locally/ divisionally, the Form will be returned to the workplace parties for further attention.
  • A copy of the completed Dispute Resolution Form must also be forwarded to the senior manager of the service area and occupational health and safety staff.
  • All Dispute Resolution Forms must be received at least one week in advance of an upcoming OHSCC meeting, such that the secretary can copy and forward to OHSCC members the Dispute Resolution Form and associated documentation for their review in advance of the OHSCC meeting.
  • The co-chair(s) who submitted the Dispute Resolution Form, as well as management of the service area, may attend the OHSCC when the issue in dispute is discussed, so as to provide the OHSCC sufficient information to understand the issue in dispute.
  • The OHSCC will seek to identify a strategy for resolving the issue in dispute. Where a means of potentially resolving the issue is identified, an OHSCC recommendation will be made to the appropriate workplace party.
  • If the OHSCC determines it to be appropriate, a working group may be struck to develop a proposed strategy for approval by the OHSCC. If approved by the OHSCC, the OHSCC Secretary will forward this strategy for resolution to the appropriate service area senior manager. A copy of this correspondence will be provided to the JHSC/OH&S representative.
  • The senior manager of the service area to whom the recommendation is forwarded (or other party receiving the recommendation) is expected to respond to the secretary of the OHSCC, either accepting, rejecting or modifying the strategy.
  • If the senior manager of the service area (or other party receiving the recommendation) accepts the strategy, implementation is initiated and the issue is resolved, from an OHSCC perspective. The JHSC/OH&S Representative is advised.
  • If the senior manager of the service area (or other party receiving the recommendation) modifies the strategy, the modified strategy will be forwarded to the JHSC/OH&S representative for consideration. If the JHSC/OH&S representative accepts the modified strategy, the issue is resolved.
  • If the senior manager of the service area (or other party receiving the recommendation) notifies the OHSCC that it does not endorse the resolution strategy, the JHSC/OH&S representative will be advised. If the JHSC/OH&S representative accepts this outcome, the issue is closed.
  • If the senior manager of the service area (or other party receiving the recommendation) rejects the strategy but offers no alternative suggestions or if the JHSC/OH&S representative rejects management’s modified strategy for addressing the issue, the OHSCC will seek to find alternative solutions and make alternative recommendations.
  • When the issue is resolved or when the OHSCC identifies that no further potential resolutions can be identified, from the OHSCC perspective, the JHSC/OH&S representative who tabled the Form will be advised and the item will be closed on the OHSCC agenda.

The parties are again reminded that:

  • This process has been established to enable the City and its employees to address health and safety issues internally. It does not prevent City employees from contacting, and requesting the intervention of the Ministry of Labour, if they feel that their health and safety is endangered. This process is intended to serve as a support for, rather than a circumvention of, a strong internal responsibility system.
  • Management is required to respond to written recommendations of a JHSC/OH&S representative within 21 days. This process does not change or delay this legislative requirement.

Approved by

  • Occupational Health & Safety Coordinating Committee (OHSCC), April 25, 2000
  • OHSCC Reviewed: November 26, 2008, June, 2011 and April 26, 2016

Date Approved

April 25, 2000

OHSCC Reviewed:

April 26, 2016



Related links - external


Attachments

Dispute_Resolution_form_processed FINAL-s.pdf (79 Kbytes)
haz_flowchart_processed FINAL-s.pdf (175 Kbytes)
DRF -21 day_letter_processed FINAL-s.pdf (149 Kbytes)

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