Role of the Canada Safety Officer before a CLRB and PSSRB Hearing - 905-1-IPG-030

Effective Date: October 18, 1989

1. Subject

Involvement of a safety officer as an expert witness before a Canada Labour Relations Board (CLRB) and/or a Public Service Staff Relations Board (PSSRB) hearing with respect to paragraph 129(5) of the Canada Labour Code , Part II.

2. Issue

To clarify what is the role of the safety officer when requested to appear before a Board hearing to present evidence with respect to 129(5) of the Act.

3. Question

How does a safety officer conduct himself/herself before a Board hearing?

4. Conclusion

A safety officer will, perhaps on occasion, be asked to have his/her decision referred to the Board(s). As part of the process, the officer may be called upon to submit evidence before this same Board. The safety officer must keep in mind that his/her testimony will most likely be used by the adjudicator to assist in determining the outcome of the inquiry.

It must be stressed that the safety officer's role vis-à-vis these hearings is to provide all the relevant facts uncovered during the investigation of the occurrence, in an impartial and unbiased manner. The information should be presented in a clear, concise, factual and objective fashion. The safety officer should not be perceived as taking sides in the dispute.

Pre-Board disclosure meetings may be held upon the request of any party involved and at the safety officer's discretion. These meetings should be held in the presence of both parties. It should be made clear to everyone from the very outset that questions related to the case will not be answered and only the facts associated with the case will be presented.

The type of information that may be required by the safety officer to assist in presenting the facts, which are deemed to be relevant to the case, could include the referencing of written statements taken from witnesses, the officer's investigation report, photographs, etc.

Legal Services is in a position to assist safety officers in preparing for Board hearings. Legal Services, upon request, will attempt to counsel officers on the way some of the following issues (Appendix A-at the bottom of this page ) can best be handled. The safety officers can receive advice on cross-examination and matters surrounding possible attempts by the complainant's counsel to discredit and/or badger the officer.

H.P. Hansen
Assistant Deputy Minister
HRSDC-Labour Program

Appendix A - Witness Instructions-CLRB/PSSRB hearing

  1. Familiarize yourself with all aspects of the case before testifying;
  2. Have all exhibits listed and organized before going to Board hearings;
  3. Bring a copy of the relevant legislation to the hearing;
  4. Respond to all questions in an honest and objective manner, give a thoughtful answer to all questions and this will help to eliminate self-consciousness and fear;
  5. Answer questions in a clear, strong voice;
  6. Ignore insults and any attempt to badger you, retain your poise and answer questions in a dignified manner;
  7. Treat the proceedings seriously, avoid humour;
  8. Show respect, at all times, for the Board, the parties and their counsel;
  9. Wait until the question has been completed before answering, never interrupt;
  10. Never forget that you are an objective party to the proceedings;
  11. Make sure that you understand the question before answering;
  12. Don't be afraid to answer "I don't know", or to admit to be mistaken;
  13. Answer in as short and simple a manner as the question permits;
  14. Answer the "Is it possible…?" question, but be sure to reaffirm what your view of the fact is.
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