NATCA, FAA Meet To Discuss OSHA Issues
Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Report by the NATCA Labor Relations Department

FAA and NATCA, specifically NATCA Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) representatives and FAA Environmental & Occupational Safety & Health (EOSH) professionals, came together last week to address two key areas of employee occupational health and safety.

The parties formed two collaborative workgroups and met for three days at the NATCA National Office in Washington, D.C., to begin drafting the FAA’s first indoor air quality ATO Order and develop an effective EOSH communication process between NATCA and FAA regarding employee health and safety issues.

The Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) ATO Order workgroup kicked off by discussing the reactive and proactive components that would be addressed in the Order. The committee met with various specialists to assist with the Order development process.

Specialists/experts educated the group on the FAA ATO order process, and the possible adverse health affects of mold and other indoor air quality hazards.

The parties then engaged in an in-depth review of the draft Order. Attendees examined each chapter to make sure it conveyed the right message. The parties clarified the purpose of the Order, so that everyone would understand that indoor air quality covers: gases, fumes, mold and water intrusion in facilities. The parties considered various definitions for terms utilized in the draft Order, such as what constitutes a staffed versus an unstaffed facility, how a baseline facility survey was a simple walk-through of a staffed building, and the various roles and responsibilities of personnel with regards to the Order.

The parties also discussed at length the various items that would have to be developed to enact the Order, such as funding/business case proposal, environmental specifications, training components, clearance criteria on remediation projects, baseline facility survey, remediation criteria, indoor air quality baselines for standard hazards/gases such as O2, CO2, and formaldehyde.

A subcommittee of FAA/NATCA environmental experts was formed to begin working on the remediation, clearance and gas level criteria. The subcommittee began examining the various criteria and levels that will be used in each case. This subgroup will continue its discussions and when they reach their agreements, the subcommittee will then present its findings/agreements to the full IAQ committee at its next meeting in November. If an agreement is reached sooner than expected, the subgroup could present via email.

At the next IAQ meeting, the parties are hoping to have representatives from various areas such as engineering services, construction projects, and building maintenance to assist the committee in drafting the baseline survey criteria. The committee is also hoping to consult with a finance professional to assist in making a business case for implementing the Order.

The Communications workgroup was tasked with improving collaborative lines of communication between the bargaining units and the FAA service areas regarding the EOSH Program. The committee was also tasked with developing a communications flow and process to facilitate communication between regions and National Representatives on EOSH issues that affect NATCA employees and facilities.

The workgroup identified the need to open technical discussions between NATCA EOSH consultants and FAA EOSH subject matter experts regarding facility issues and concerns, project planning, incident issues and routine EOSH issues. The workgroup identified three gaps in communication between the parties. First, regional and NATCA OSH representatives were not being involved in EOSH incidents. Second, a significant communication channel was lost when the Air Traffic Organization was created and reorganized into the Service Center structure. Third, bargaining units were not receiving information on EOSH projects during the planning phase.

The workgroup then discussed many items that, if incorporated immediately, would greatly improve EOSH communications within the Service Areas, primarily between NATCA Regional OSH representatives and the Service Center Planning and Requirements Group (PRG). The workgroup then developed communication flow charts and protocols, which stimulated a robust discussion and assisted in the clarification of communications needs and helped identify significant changes to the draft protocols.

The workgroup then decided to focus on action items, conduct monthly teleconferences to discuss the status of action item, and continue working on developing a standard operating procedure to facilitate communication between FAA and NATCA on EOSH issues.

Both workgroups are planning to reconvene in November.

NATCA’s points of contact on these issues are Eastern Regional Vice President Phil Barbarello and Southern Regional Vice President Victor Santore, OSHA Committee Chairman Mike Odryna, and Labor Relations Staff Representative Jennifer Hayward.