January 12, 2018

Bill 30 revises Alberta's Occupational Health and Safety Act

Bill 30 revises Alberta's Occupational Health and Safety Act

On November 27, 2017, the Government of Alberta introduced Bill 30 - An Act to protect the health and well-being of Albertan workers. Bill 30 proposed a complete replacement of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act (the Act) sets the minimum standards for healthy and safe workplaces in Alberta. Bill 30 - An Act to Protect the Health and Well-being of Albertan Workers - Modernizes Alberta's Health and Safety System to Reflect Modern Workplaces, Increase Employee Engagement, Improve Workforce security and increase support.

The bill includes amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, such as giving employees the right to refuse unsafe work and requiring employers to report near misses. It also expands the rules to prevent workplace violence and harassment, launching workplace health and safety committees and increasing benefits for young workers who sustain long-term injuries. Most of the changes should come into effect on June 1, 2018.

Main changes in Occupational Health and Safety in Alberta

Right to refuse dangerous work

  • Workers have the right to refuse unsafe work and to be protected against retaliation for exercising their rights and responsibilities under the law.
  • Workers have the right to be well informed about potential hazards and to have access to the necessary information on health and safety in the workplace.
  • The right to participate. The proposed amendments ensure that workers participate in health and safety discussions, including participation on health and safety committees.

Health and Safety Program

  • Employers with 20 or more workers must have a written health and safety program. The program must be reviewed every three years and include mandatory elements.

Occupational Health and Safety Committees and Representatives

  • Health and safety committees are required for workplaces with 20 or more employees. These committees are responsible for:
  • inspecting the site for hazards
  • helping employers respond to workers' health and safety concerns
  • helping to solve dangerous work refusals
  • helping to develop health and safety policies and safe work procedures
  • assisting in orientation of new employees in health and safety
  • developing and promoting education and training programs

These changes will harmonize Alberta with the other provinces of Canada.

Injury reporting, compliance and enforcement

The government must be notified when a serious injury, an incident or death occurs to ensure that it is properly investigated to prevent future incidents.

  • Employers are required to report "near misses" (incidents that could result in an injury or serious incident).
  • The powers to conduct inspections and investigations, as well as compliance tools, will be expanded and updated.
  • The creative sentencing requirements have been expanded by giving the court additional powers to direct how penalties may be used and to provide more oversight.
  • The government is required to publish more information collected during compliance and enforcement activities, including the results of OHS investigations.
  • The Act generates better opportunities for the government to acquire and share information to help prevent workplace illnesses and injuries.

“Every Albertan should be able to go to work and come home healthy and safe at the end of the workday. When they don’t, they deserve to have access to the medical and financial supports they need to get healthy, care for their families and return to work. This bill would better protect hardworking Albertans and provide fair compensation to Albertans injured on the job.”
Christina Gray, Minister of Labour
(source: Alberta Government News release November 27, 2017)

At SPI Health and Safety, our specialists can help you update your company’s OHS plan to make sure it’s compliant with Alberta's new Occupational Health and Safety Act.

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