Task force tables 22 recommendations to improve health, safety culture in schools

A provincial task force involving labour and school boards has tabled 22 recommendations to make Ontario public elementary school communities healthier and safer places to work and learn.
The recommendations, developed by the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) and the Ontario Public Supervisory Officers’ Association (OPSOA), with technical support from the Ministries of Education and Labour, provide a practical blueprint for action related to training, workplace violence and serious student incidents, lockdown procedures, environmental concerns, and joint health and safety committee effectiveness. The task force is unprecedented in that it was negotiated by ETFO as part of the Memorandum of Understanding signed with the government in June 2013.

“This is the first time that a labour union, schools boards and government have sat down together to identify how we can create safer and healthier schools,” said ETFO president Sam Hammond. “It’s a unique and important step forward to improving working conditions for our members and learning conditions for all students.”

Key recommendations include:
•the creation of a guidance document for indoor air quality in school communities
•an annual professional activity day focusing on health and safety to be held in every school board across the province
•health and safety training embedded in post-secondary programs for educational professionals.

?“These recommendations are truly the result of a collaborative effort that takes a whole-school approach to health and safety,” said OPSOA executive director Kathy Soule. “We have identified in a comprehensive manner the steps that education partners can take to strengthen health and safety culture in our school communities.”

?The ETFO represents 76,000 elementary public school teachers and education professionals. The OPSOA represents 300 superintendents and directors of education.