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Alberta’s Changing Occupational Safety Laws – A Golden Opportunity

Protecting the health and safety of your employees is vital to achieving a productive and efficient work environment. Occupational safety includes all aspects of physical, mental and social health and safety in a workplace. Every business has inherent health risks and potential safety hazards – some more severe than others.

safety in action

Occupational safety hazards cost businesses money and can result in a loss of productivity, higher insurance costs, litigation risks, decreased morale, and reduced employee retention. Therefore, it is critical for employers to proactively address occupational safety issues and implement preventative procedures.

This year, Alberta raised its minimum standards for workplace health and safety. These changes are designed to protect workers better and ensure they have the same rights and protections as other Canadians. Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, businesses have additional responsibilities and are required to implement preventive measures to avoid accidents, injuries, and health hazards in the workplace. The new law recognizes expanded employee rights, creates new obligations for employers, and enhances the regulatory enforcement powers of the government.

Several specific changes to the new OHS act include:

  • Establishes changes to the workers’ compensation board
  • Establishes joint worksite health and safety committees for workplaces with 20 or more employees
  • Clarifies roles and responsibilities of workplace parties for health and safety
  • Requires businesses with between five and 19 workers to have a health and safety representative in the workplace
  • Requires businesses to report “near miss” incidents to OHS

In addition, some of the general changes to employee protections and benefits include the following specific rights:

  • Knowledge about potential hazards
  • Refusal to accept unsafe work
  • Participation in health and safety discussions
  • Protection from workplace violence and harassment

These changes should be embraced by businesses as a golden opportunity to seriously stand apart from their competitors because their employees will be more productive and their favorable reputation in the community will boost sales and revenue.

If you are a business that is seeking advice or direction on how to be compliant with the new OHS act, RMLO can help. Our lawyers have significant experience assisting our clients with occupational health and safety related issues. Contact us!