On Nov. 7, 2012, changes to Saskatchewan’s OHS Act take effect—at least most of the changes. Several of the more controversial revisions are still in limbo.
History of the Changes
In Saskatchewan, the Occupational Health and Safety Council (Council) is a nine-member body, which advises the Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety (Minister) on OHS matters. The OHS Act requires the Council to undertake a review of the OHS legislation and its administration at least every five years and provide a report on the review to the Minister.
The Council launched its most recent review in July 2011. And on Dec. 13, 2011, the Saskatchewan government introduced proposed amendments to the OHS laws (Bill 23) in response to the results of this review.
In May 2012, the government passed the amendments to the OHS Act and originally announced that the changes would take effect on Sept. 3, 2012. But after stakeholders raised concerns about several of the changes, the government decided to delay the take effect date.
The government recently announced that Bill 23 will be proclaimed to take effect on Nov. 7. However, the proclamation will not apply to two controversial changes:
- The requirement to designate a prime contractor in certain sectors
- Proposed increases to fines for OHS violations.
These issues will be addressed in another bill later this fall.
The government released a guide to Bill 23 and the changes that explains them in more detail. Highlights:
Supervisors. A definition of “supervisor” has been added to the OHS Act that spells out specific supervisor duties. This approach is similar to the other jurisdictions that have designated supervisor duties, such as BC, MB, NL and ON. (For more on supervisor duties under the OHS laws, go to the Supervisor Compliance Centre.)
OHS officers. OHS officers now have the power to require employers to produce any records of OHS training they may have provided to their workers. Officers may also require anyone whom the officer has reasonable cause to believe has information on a work-related fatality, serious injury or harassment allegation to attend an interview and provide full and correct answers to any questions that the officer believes is necessary to ask.
The government also announced new regulations to better protect late-night retail workers from violence in the workplace. The new regulations include safe cash handling procedures, use of video cameras and the provision of good visibility and signage for all late-night retail premises.