SHP 104 



Canadian Pacific Railway Company






SOLE ARBITRATOR: J. F. W. Weatherill




There appeared on behalf of the Company:

M. M. Yorston –




And on behalf of the Union:

J. W. Asprey –

W. Redhead –




A hearing in this matter was held at Montreal on June 11, 1981.




The Joint Statement of Fact and Joint Statement of Issue in this matter are as follows:


On October 30, 1980, Angus Electrician Mr. R. Cadieux was held out of service for refusing to wear his safety glasses. An investigation was conducted following which Mr. Cadieux was assessed 15 demerit marks for not wearing his safety glasses and refusing to comply with his supervisor’s instruction.


It is the position of the Union that the Company under the circumstances treated Mr. Cadieux unjustly.

It is the position of the Company that the discipline was warranted.


The grievor, an employee of some twenty-five years’ service, is an Electrician in the Maintenance Department and works on the 0730-0539 shift. At about 0920 on October 30, the Shop Engineer noticed that the grievor was not wearing his safety glasses. He told the grievor that he must wear his safety glasses, and the grievor then put them on.

Later that day, at about 1330, the Shop Engineer and the Maintenance Foreman came to the location where the grievor was working – the compressor room in the reclaim department – and noticed that the grievor was not wearing his safety glasses. The compressor room contains enclosed machinery. The grievor’s work involved installing some wires and piping on the wall of the room, using clips. At the time he was not actively at work, but was waiting for his mate to bring him a measure. The situation was, I am sure, not one involving any high degree of danger to the eyes, but it was nevertheless a working area, and one in which the company’s policy with respect to eye protection applied, as the grievor knew.

The grievor was directed to put on his safety glasses, but he did not do so. He appears to have taken the position that safety glasses were not necessary in that work location. While it is not clear whether he did so of his own volition or not, the grievor then punched out and went home. The matter was scheduled for investigation the following day. The investigation began, but in view of the grievor’s statements to the effect that he would only wear safety glasses in areas where he felt they were necessary the investigation was – apparently by agreement – recessed until the following working day. Thus, the grievor lost two hours’ work on October 30, and a further eight hours’ work on October 31, although it had been intended that he return to work following the investigation on that day. When the investigation was completed, the grievor was assessed 15 demerit marks for not wearing his safety glasses and refusing to comply with his supervisor’s order.

There is no doubt that the grievor was wrong in refusing to wear safety glasses on the occasion in question, and in his view that he might determine for himself whether they were necessary or not in any particular work location. At the time in question, the grievor was in a work location which the company had not unreasonably determined to come within that broad area of its operations where safety glasses must be worn. This determination was in aid of a safety program which has had considerable success and whose importance cannot be minimized. Upon the grievor’s refusal to wear safety glasses in the afternoon of October 30, it was quite proper that he be sent home for the balance of his shift. The perseverance of his attitude the following day justifies his being held off work then as well. His loss of earnings for the period in question, then, is attributable to the grievor’s own conduct.

While I find that the grievor was subject to discipline, it is my view that the fact of his having lost some ten hours’ earnings is an element to be borne in mind in assessing the appropriate penalty. It is also relevant to consider the grievor’s substantial seniority and apparently good (although not entirely clear) record. Further, it may be noted that the grievor, in the investigation, did acknowledge his duty to follow instructions and to wear safety glasses despite whatever his own feelings might be as to the need for them. Thus, the disciplinary process would appear to have achieved one of its goals, and there was no need for the assessment of a very substantial penalty in terms of demerit points in this case. Of course, if the grievor were to repeat this offence, a heavier assessment of demerits would be justified.

Having regard to the considerations set out above, and to the circumstances of the particular case, it is my award that the penalty of 15 demerits be set aside, and an assessment of 5 demerits substituted therefor. I make no award of compensation, the grievor’s loss of earnings being directly attributable to his own conduct.


DATED AT TORONTO, this 16th day of June, 1981.


(signed) J. F. W. Weatherill