LAWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
Nov. 27: Making up for decades of neglect, the government tabled Bill 30, a 208-page list of OHS Act amendments that’s almost as long as the OHS Act itself. Most of the proposed changes, which would take effect on June 1, 2018, are adaptations of rules from other provinces, including
- Broader rights of workers to know about hazards and refuse dangerous work
- Greater protections against reprisals for workers who exercise these rights
- New OHS duties for employers, supervisors and workers including preventing workplace violence and harassment
- Mandatory designation of prime contractor in charge of health and safety at oil and gas and other worksites
- Duty of temporary staffing agencies to protect temps and comply with OHS laws
- Mandatory JHSCs and OHS programs for sites with 20 or more workers
- Broader JHSC powers including right workplace inspection, resolving work refusals, developing OHS policies, training programs and procedures and new worker safety orientation
- Employer duty to report and investigate near misses and injuries requiring hospitalization
- Revised medical assessment requirements
- Power of inspectors to issue stop-work orders covering multiple worksites of the same employer.
Nov. 27: Bill 30 also proposes sweeping changes to workers’ comp that would take effect on Jan. 1, 2018. Highlights:
- Return to work mandatory (unless it would cause employer undue hardship)
- New fair practices office to help workers manage their claims
- New office of appeals advisors to represent non-union workers and employers with fewer than 100 employees in legal proceedings
- Broader coverage of post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological injuries
- Removal of $98,700 annual maximum insurable earnings cap—workers above the cap would get compensation of 90% of their earnings
- Fatality benefit equal to maximum Non-Economic Loss Payment to spouse, dependent or estate
- Removal of 0.5% CPI reduction for injured worker benefit cost-of-living adjustments
- Increased long-term compensation rates for workers suffering severe injuries before age 25 and who enroll in vocational rehab programs
- Expanded medical exam options for injured workers
- Streamlined WCB appeals process.
Dec. 1: With all the hullaballoo over Bill 30 and OHS laws, you may have overlooked the new Safety Codes Act law that took effect today. The Act, which runs parallel to the OHS laws, provides for fines against defendants convicted of violating safety codes for buildings, electrical systems, elevating devices and other systems and equipment. The new law lets the government issue administrative monetary penalties (AMPs) of up to $10K per day (up to a cumulative maximum of $100K) without a conviction—similar to how AMPs can be imposed for OHS violations.
Nov. 2: Newly passed Bill 19 requires gas stations and retail convenience stores to take measures to protect workers against risks of violence by June 1, 2018, including:
- Pre-pay procedures minimizing handling of cash
- Workplace violence prevention plans
- Video monitoring
- Time-lock safes that can’t be opened during night time hours
- Personal emergency transmitters for workers working alone
- Workplace violence prevention training for workers.
Farms & Ranches
Jan. 15: Public review ends on proposed OHS changes for farms and ranches, including mandatory:
- Emergency evacuation plans
- Protections against falls into bins and hoppers
- PPE training
- Mechanical equipment for moving heavy and awkward loads
- Machine guarding
- Standards for scaffolding
- Workplace violence prevention plans.
Drugs & Alcohol
Nov. 14: Alberta tabled a pair of bills to implement cannabis legalization in the province. Bill 26 modifies the Gaming & Liquor laws to provide government oversight of cannabis cultivation and sales and would ban smoking or vaping in any workplaces where smoking is currently banned under the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act; Bill 29 amends the Traffic Safety Act to include new penalties for cannabis-impaired driving.
Nov. 29: Average workers’ comp premiums in 2018 will remain unchanged at $1.02 per $100 assessable payroll, as will maximum insurable earnings at $98,700.
Dec. 2: Comments ended on a Climate Change Office proposal to limit oil sands emissions to 100 megatonnes per year and implement incentives to encourage oil sands operators to make even deeper emissions reductions.