Know your rights!

When it comes to your health and safety, you have the…
1. Right to know
2. Right to participate
3. Right to refuse unsafe work

Canada Labour Code Part II
Duties of Employers
124 Every Employer shall ensure that the health and safety at work of every person employed by the employer is protected.

Duties of Employees
126(1) (g) While at work, every employee shall report to the employer any thing or circumstance in a work place that is likely to be hazardous to the health or safety of the employer, or that of the other employees of other persons granted access to the work place by the employer.

Have you been “coached” following an incident or injury?
You should know that “coaching”, a form of behavioural-based safety management, is often ineffective at solving the root cause of an incident and eliminating hazards.

Although “coaching” can improve safety in some cases, it often leads down the path of blaming the worker. Even if a worker deviates from SOP’s, it’s usually because of an underlying root cause. Because of this, blaming the worker is not a best practice, and is universally discouraged in occupational health and safety circles.

If you find yourself being “coached”, focus on what really caused the incident including factors that may have led to any contributing worker actions. Our actions are often just reactions to other things in the workplace - that’s where the root cause lies. Ask your supervisor how the coaching addresses this.

Examples of “coaching” that aren’t full solutions to a hazard, and which may have the effect of blaming the worker:

* Asking you to be “situationally aware”
You cannot look out for things you don’t know exist. The law makes it the company’s responsibility to inform employees of hazards in the workplace, so that they are able to look out for them. The question here should be why weren’t you able to be situationally aware.

* Being told to “focus on the task at hand”
We’re only human. If there was a distraction, what caused it and how can that be fixed?

* Being asked to watch instructional videos
Videos are often a cheaper, but much less effective option to offering the hands-on training needed to teach skills that ensure safety. If hands-on training is required, say so.

When it comes to Musculoskeletal injuries, they aren’t always due to poor technique. In most cases, they’re linked to faulty equipment, lack of required space to perform tasks or other factors in the workplace. Have those been addressed?

* Being referred back to the very procedure that you are filing the report about
E.g.: If you report fatigue due to short daytime layovers and lack of sleep, being reminded that layovers are for sleeping isn’t helpful and is an attempt to pin a scheduling hazard back onto you, the worker.

* Being told not to rush
But WHY were you rushing? Unless the WHY is addressed, it is only normal that you will feel pressured to meet expectations and continue to rush. Safety always comes before service. If service-related duties, including OTP, are interfering with your ability to be safe and follow all SOP’s, that is a workplace construct that only the company can correct.

Our suggestion: Document the WHY, and then don’t rush. If necessary, stop the service (ex. Lack of time on Rapidair). Follow up by reporting any resulting difficulties conducting service as a result, using the appropriate safety reporting procedures. The best defense against unreasonable work demands is consistent reporting.

Cosmic Radiation - More than the Northern Lights up there!

We are all affected by cosmic radiation in our daily lives. Energetic particles coming from the sun and from other sources in space bombard our planet continuously. Although some of the radiation reaches the ground, the Earth’s atmosphere blocks most of it. However, Flight Attendants are exposed to higher level of cosmic radiation than the general population.

Three main factors determine the amount of cosmic radiation we receive on a flight: altitude, latitude and the solar activity. When we fly, our exposure to cosmic radiation increases with altitude as the atmosphere gets thinner.

For the same reason, flying closer to the pole also increases the amount we receive. Flying during the day or night however doesn’t affect our exposure as the level of radiation is constant regardless of the time of the day. In 2013, Air Canada launched a cosmic radiation monitoring program operated by PCAire for its flight attendants and pilots. Crew members can access PCAire’s estimate of their exposure to cosmic radiation on a flightby flight basis. The program also provides a monthly total and a running 12 month total of exposure to cosmic radiation.

Although Transport Canada recommends that crew members do not exceed an annual exposure of 20 mSv, they also recommend to set an intervention level at 6 mSv which means that preventive measures should be taken to reduce the exposure when reaching that level. Crew members approaching the intervention level will receive a letter from the Company notifying them of their accumulated dose and to invite them to meet with a manager to discuss options.

The work between the Company and the Union on this issue is still ongoing and if you receive a letter, we invite you to take the offer to meet with a manager. This meeting is an opportunity to have an open dialogue between the Company, the Union and the Flight Attendants to find a way to mitigate the hazard by involving all stakeholders. It is important to note that the meeting is for information purposes only and you will not be forced to modify your flying. We also encourage you to proactively monitor your exposure level by looking at your dose report found at

Also, check out this interesting article.