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Description: Request for review of safety issues of Wallace rink integral bench design
Status: Open

posted February 25, 2007

Wallace Rink integral bench

From Jutta Mason to Chris Gallop, assistant to Councillor Adam Giambrone, Jan.2 2007

Health and safety objection re edge: Appears to be the same distance drop as at City Hall and Harbourfront, edge doubles as a bench, with special white cover, same as Harbourfront. (Note: edge is not a two-foot drop -- it's 14 inches)

From Chris Gallop, assistant to Councillor Adam Giambrone, to Jutta Mason, Jan.2 2007

The contractor is coming in tomorrow to make the health and safety improvements. They should finish sometime tomorrow afternoon and then the rink will be ready to be flooded. It should happen by Thursday at the latest. Brian also agreed to provide feedback tomorrow morning on your questions about whether a ramp might work better than a concrete step.

From Jutta Mason to Chris Gallop, assistant to Councillor Adam Giambrone, Jan.4 2007

I'm glad that they're using wood to build the extra platform at Wallace because I think it may turn out that it will have to be ripped out. It's a last-minute fundamental design change (ordered by Employee Health and Safety staff?????)

I think it will spoil the bench feature at Wallace, which works so well at Harbourfront.

From Chris Gallop, assistant to Councillor Adam Giambrone, to Jutta Mason, Jan.4 2007

Once we get the rink going, I think it makes perfect sense to watch carefully how this new wooden step is working in practice and think about whether we should keep it in future years, build something different in the summer, or even remove it entirely next year. I plan to ask staff to review the whole thing after the rink season and make a decision about what to do next year.

The step is really a minor issue though compared to the big picture priority of just getting the rink operational and open to the public asap.

Those are all very good questions you've raised regarding the whole process and we are also very keen on hearing the answers from Parks staff. Should make for interesting reading!

From Chris Gallop, assistant to Councillor Adam Giambrone, to Jutta Mason, Jan.5 2007

As for the question of expense and authority, I'm going to ask Kevin Bowser to review the issue once he gets back from vacation. My sense is that Brian was really the person who took the initiative on this one, his hand having been forced by the health and safety order. Had he not acted quickly to comply with the order the rink opening may have been delayed even further, which we all wanted to avoid.

From Jutta Mason to Chris Gallop, assistant to Councillor Adam Giambrone, Jan.5 2007

I think that asking Kevin Bowser about design changes won't help -- it's not his area -- you'll need to go up to the level of policy. It's important to remember that the employee health and safety legislation is a very specific act concerned with employees. Some useful questions: Are the health and safety staff exceeding their authority (and competence) by making judgments about general rink user safety?

What part of the Ontario Building Code did the Wallace rink designers/architects not understand when they designed the long sitting ledge that's just like the one that makes Harbourfront Rink so nice?

From Jutta Mason to Chris Gallop, assistant to Councillor Adam Giambrone, Jan.10 2007

I still need the information I asked for last week: who made the lightning-fast decision to spend all that money eliminating the long built-in rink bench, and where did that money come from? In the danger priority list -- pleasure rink ice going into cement with no border, no access stairs, entrapment area on the west end of the rink with no visibility and no alternative exit, and a built-in bench similar to Harbourfront Rink -- on what basis did those dangers get prioritized? Did that wooden step-up project remove funds that would have been available for stairs? And the development-related ward funds you mentioned on another occasion -- are they unavailable for basic amenities like access stairs? Thanks for sending me all the OHSA guideline documents, to address my concerns about the Wallace Rink alteration that hastily changed a long Harbourfront Rink type of edge-bench design to a step-down stair.

From Chris Gallop, assistant to Councillor Adam Giambrone, to Kevin Bowser, City Rinks manager, Jan.11 2007

Can you please review the Health and Safety Order at Wallace with Brian Green and provide Jutta with an overview of the policy and why the decision to build the step-up was made.

Personally, I think the step-up was the right call in the interest of getting the rink operational and open to the public asap. However, it makes sense to also review how the step-up has worked out at the end of the rink season and make a decision about whether any further changes are needed.

From Jutta Mason to Chris Gallop, assistant to Councillor Adam Giambrone, Jan.11 2007

I have the impression that the three people who came to look at Wallace Rink, and ordered the step-down, were Employee Health and Safety worker-inspectors. (True? If not, who were they?) But their order appears to refer to their ideas about rink user safety. If their authority extends to park users, I need to know the policy defining that. For one thing, the inspectors seem to be unconcerned about the unmarked cement/ice edge around most of the pleasure pad, and about the main rink user access being through a hole in the fence. So how they they know what to target?

In addition, I need to know what part of the building code or any relevant parks code was unknown to or ignored by the rink architect and the project manager who approved this design.

From Jutta Mason to Chris Gallop, assistant to Councillor Adam Giambrone, Jan.15 2007

I need to know whether you've had any information back about the mandate of the health and safety staff.

From Jutta Mason to Chris Gallop, assistant to Councillor Adam Giambrone, Jan.18 2007

As I thought, all the material you sent me says that JHSC recommendations apply to workers, e.g.

Although inspections are meant to focus on the workers regularly employed in the work area, it is also important to be aware of others who move in and out of the area to conduct maintenance, make deliveries or perform other tasks.

The material also outlines the documentation necessary:

All health and safety concerns raised during the physical inspection should be recorded on an appropriate JHSC-approved workplace inspection report and signed by the member(s) performing the inspection. A generic Workplace Inspection Report is available on the Intranet and can be modified to meet specific needs of the workplace.

And it requires a lot of distribution: A copy of the inspection report must be provided to the appropriate management staff responsible for corrective action. In addition, the inspection report should be distributed to the JHSC, the Human Resources Health & Safety Consultant, and posted on the Worksite Safety Notice Board.

Here's the description of what such a report should contain:

Clearly identifies it as a JHSC recommendation

Provides the date the recommendation was made

Clearly outlines the hazard or concern

Indicates that management has 21 calendar days to respond

Contains the signature of the management and labour co-chair of the committee

Could you get a copy of the inspection report for the Wallace Rink alteration?

The question here is whether the committee exceeds its authority (and its competence) when it makes recommendations for rink users rather than workers. This is not the first time that we've come across this question. I think that this is a serious issue with a lot of ramifications city-wide, and it needs to be followed up.

Could you get a legal opinion on this from the City's legal department? Is there another City division with an interest in this, such as the City auditor?

From Jutta Mason to Chris Gallop, assistant to Councillor Adam Giambrone, Jan.29 2007

I'm just checking on the progress of any of these questions that you relayed for me, so that I can report them as "no response" in the CELOS rink report. Can you confirm that you didn't receive any response? (Thanks!) .......

C. health and safety authority 1. We need a copy of the inspection report for the Wallace Rink alteration 2. We need the text of the health and safety committee's jurisdiction

From Jutta Mason to Chris Gallop, assistant to Councillor Adam Giambrone, Feb.25 2007

I think you said that Kevin Bowser was going to report back to you about the Joint Health and Safety Committee's documentation and reasons for turning the Wallace Rink integral bench into a stairway. Two things have become obvious since then:

1. the exit doors that were the reason for the JHSC order are NEVER used by Local 416 workers

2. There is an unfortunate lack of seating by the rink.

Could you find out the status of my information request? We're trying to work on this now.

From City Outdoor Rinks manager Kevin Bowser to Chris Gallop, assistant to Councillor Adam Giambrone, March 2 2007

There is an active Health & Safety Committee working in the South District that have a legal requirement to inspect all City facilities. The members of the committee have been trained and have been provided course certification to allow them to do inspections in the workplace. These inspections are carried out to provide a safe working environment for all employees and for residents and users of facilities.

The Occupational H&S Act Regulation is outlined in the Administrative Section of Section 3, Subsection 3, Clause(s) 18 to 29. Excerpt attached.

After discussions with Brian Green, it is my understanding that the wooden riser has been installed as an interim measure. Brian will meet with Mike Card who is the capital lead and review at the end of the artificial ice rink season and consider any change or alteration if required.

Mike Card is currently on vacation. If you require any further information, please do not hesitate to call and ask of my assistance. Thank you.

From Jutta Mason to Chris Gallop, assistant to Councillor Adam Giambrone, March 3 2007, cc to General Manager Brenda Librecz, Recreation Director Don Boyle, Parks Director Paul Ronan, and City Rinks manager Kevin Bowser

Thanks for following up on the JHSC-ordered integral bench conversion at Wallace Rink. It will be helpful in our meeting with Councillor Fletcher, plus I'll high-light this thread in the workbook accompanying the Rink Report.

You'll note that Mr.Bowser has not responded to the request for the actual report giving the detailed, specific reasons for the integral bench conversion. I see that the OHSA excerpt provided by Mr.Bowser omits the requirement for such a publicly available report. But you'll find the words of that legal requirement on our "problems and solutions" documentation (Jan.18 item):

There are two other problems:

1. despite Mr.Bowser's assertion, the OHSA makes no mention of the JHSC having any authority nor training regarding "resident and user" safety.

2. the concerns of facility users, deprived of the generous seating planned for the rink, are best know to the staff who work with them, i.e. recreation staff. However Mr.Bowser suggests that further decisions about this integral bench conversion will be made between Mike Card and Brian Green. Where is recreation? Where are users?

This response highlights two problems, I think:

1. Parks seems to be taking over Recreation functions -- is this an intentional policy? Where was that discussed? Where decided?

2. Information specifically requested through the Councillor's office was not supplied by Parks, even after more than a month.

I think this needs a remedy.

From Jutta Mason to Chris Gallop, assistant to Councillor Adam Giambrone, May 7 2007

I just want to make sure that Councillor Giambrone agrees -- since the hockey players at Wallace had so much to say last winter, about the players' boxes being covered over, will the staff's proposed railing be put on hold until there's a public meeting? A September or October meeting would still allow time for action, since it would take little time to re-open the players' boxes -- or alternatively, if the meeting approves the railings, they could be installed quickly as well.

On Friday I saw that the new compressor-room doors are now on, and the first bit of the step-down had been dismantled. I think that Mike Card said the lumber belongs to Wallace now, and that means it would be possible to ask Carpentry for some simple (moveable) benches to be built for the rink circumference.

-- Or built by volunteers, if Carpentry can't do it. I'd like to bring this up at the DigIn meeting tomorrow evening -- any thoughts?

From Jutta Mason to City Councillor Adam Giambrone, May 9 2007

Tonight at the DigIn meeting I was given a chance to do some show-and-tell about the players' bench problem at Wallace Rink (easy to see from that meeting room). I asked the meeting if they would support the request of the hockey players, to revisit the players' boxes plan in a meeting in September or October. I explained that one reason the players' benches in the middle are so unpopular is because they separate the players waiting on the bench from the game with a chain link fence -- this is never normally the case. I also explained that the proposed railing behind these disliked benches would have to be put on hold, if the vote supported a public meeting.

The meeting votes was 14 in favour of holding the public meeting before erecting a railing, 0 against.

Please note also that it's my understanding that this issue is not "time-sensitive" since the railing behind the benches was never part of the rebuilding contract. So it need not be rushed in now.

One of the the DigIn meeting's participants asked about the hockey side being closed at times last winter because of very thin ice. When the meeting was told about the lack of a zamboni, and the fact that this is the ONLY double pad without one, people were pleased to hear about the womens' hockey program's offer to pay for a zamboni tent for next winter. They wanted to know the status of that arrangement -- does your office support this? And do you support the DigIn vote on the players' bench meeting?

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