By Seema Dhawan
Big changes are headed towards health and safety regulation in Alberta. Over three decades after its birth, the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS) is getting an overhaul in Canada’s Wild West. Titled the Act to Protect the Health and Well-Being of Working Albertans the legislation brings major changes to OHS, the majority of which must be implemented by June 1, 2018.
Alberta is one of the last provinces to catch up to workplace safety regulations that meet the changing needs of a modern workplace. In fact, the new law now mandates that OHS legislation be reviewed every five years to remain relevant to changing workplaces.
“It’s been a long time coming in Alberta,” says Alina Martin, President of Danatec Educational Services Ltd., “Bill 30 will give a voice to employees and employers in Alberta in a variety of facets. Overall I think it’s a vast improvement towards worker safety.”
A Big Change
The goal of the legislation is to mandate three key worker rights: The right to refuse unsafe work, the right to know, and the right to participate. It clarifies what the responsibilities for worksite parties are, aims to improve worker engagement in OHS, and brings a renewed focus on illness and prevention.
The new law requires that workplaces with 20 or more employees have a joint health and safety committee and employers with 5-19 employees will be required to have a healthy and safety representative for work that lasts 90 days or more.
The committee will be responsible for inspecting work sites for hazards, develop safe work procedures, and help educate new employees with health and safety procedures. The committee will also help employers respond to health and safety concerns of the workers, help resolve unsafe work refusals, and develop and promote education and training programs.
Over the past 33 years, Danatec has specialized in helping companies keep and remain compliant. With award-winning materials, and a dedication to building best-of-breed products, our goal is to take complex regulatory materials and delivery them to the market so organization are able to adapt and train their employees properly.
“We’ve often been referred to an extension of a company’s Health and Safety Department,” say Martin. “We are looking forward to helping companies over the next few years implement Bill 30 changes and work alongside all our partners that helped bring this change to Alberta.”
The new legislation also allows injured workers (including those injured at a young age) to receive benefits more comparable to their expected annual earnings, requires that employers report “near miss” incidents, ones that could have caused serious injury but did not, and expands the ability of the courts to impose creative sentences, such as providing funding for safety or preventative medicine research.
Notably, the new law also places an emphasis on protecting employees from workplace violence and harassment, and mandates that it is the responsibility of employers and supervisors to prevent these incidents.
“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,” the Minister of Labour, Christina Gray, said in a statement.
How do Companies Catch Up?
As one of Canada’s most recognized safety training providers, ensuring that businesses are compliant by the new changes outlined in Bill 30 including the creation of a joint health and safety committee or updating best practices, Danatec can provide consulting, training and education, information and deep technical expertise in Occupational Health and Safety legislation.
“We can help you review existing policies or help you implement new ones. 2018 will bring some new products that we are building to specifically address this new legislation, so call us today if you have any questions,” says Martin.