SHP 164



Canadian National Railway Company

(the "Company")



(the "Union")


SOLE ARBITRATOR: J. F. W. Weatherill



There appeared on behalf of the Union:

J. Brady

A. Melanson



And on behalf of the Company:

J. Cameron

D. Lord



A hearing in this matter was held at Montreal on September 13, 1984.




The Joint Statement of Issue in this matter is as follows.


On March 9, 1983, Pipefitter D. Fraser, Taschereau Diesel Shop, Montreal, was assigned to change the cab heater on locomotive 2517. During the removal of the water piping, Pipefitter Fraser damaged the electrical wiring on the locomotive.

As a result of the damage, Pipefitter Fraser was assessed 10 demerits for his responsibility for damaging locomotive 2517 during the performance of his duties.

The Union has requested that the 10 demerit marks be removed from Pipefitter Fraserís personal record.

The Company has declined.

There is, except in one respect which will be noted, no dispute as to the facts. The grievor, an employee of some eight yearsí service, is a qualified and experienced pipefitter. On February 20, 1983 (the date in the Joint Statement appears to be incorrect), the grievor was working on the 2330 - 0730 shift at the companyís Taschereau Yard Diesel shop. He was assigned, as noted, to change the cab heater in a locomotive from a hot water system to an electrical system.

This job required the removal of certain water pipes and the shut off of the intake from the engine block. The cab heater piping is located under the floor of the engine cab, and access to the piping is gained through two doors situated on the outside of the unit about five feet above ground level. When both doors are opened, the aperture is just over five feet wide and just over two feet in height. There is a vertical centre post at the mid point. The cavity is approximately six feet in depth.

In order to perform his work, and to remove the pipes, the grievor had to crawl into the space described and cut the brackets holding the pipes, and the pipes, with an oxy-acetylene torch. Behind the water pipes was a metal duct containing electrical wires. The grievor did not take any precautions, such as placing a sheet of metal or asbestos between the pipes on which he was working and the electrical duct, to protect the duct, with the result that heat from the torch melted the duct and damaged the electrical wires. The company estimated the damage at some $525.00.

The only conflict with respect to the facts is as to whether or not the grievor requested an assistant when he was given the assignment. At the hearing, it was the foremanís evidence that the grievor made no request, but it is possible that the foreman was referring to the lack of any request for insulating material, such as a piece of metal or asbestos. It does not appear that helpers are usually provided on such an assignment. There would be no room for a helper in the actual area where the work was to be done, and indeed nothing for a helper to do except to advise the journeyman of the safety precautions (which of course the journeyman should know for himself), or, more importantly, to keep a lookout for any effects of the operation which might not at first be visible to the journeyman.

Thus, in the instant case, a helper might have observed that damage was occurring to material located (as was the case with the electrical wires here), in an area (just below the floor of the cab, but above the area in which the grievor was working), which the grievor could not see.

From all of the material before me, it would be my conclusion that the grievor did not ask for a helper. Even if he had, however, and even if it were considered that in an operation such as this a helper or observer ought to be present, that would not alter the fact that the grievor himself did not take the safety precautions which the nature of his task required. The grievor is a craft worker, and is responsible for carrying out his work in a skilled manner. He failed to do so in this case, and was subject to discipline.

For the foregoing reasons, it is my conclusion that there was just cause for the imposition of discipline on the grievor in the circumstances of this case. While I do not consider that any greater penalty would have been justified (there is no evidence of any disciplinary record), I do not consider that the assessment of ten demerits could properly be said to have gone beyond the range of reasonable disciplinary responses to the situation. Accordingly, the grievance is dismissed.

DATED AT TORONTO, this 9th day of October, 1984.

(signed) J. F. W. Weatherill