Compliance Alert: Alberta Employers: Brace Yourselves for Major OHS Changes

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Alberta’s NDP government is on a legislative reform binge. First came employment standards and labour laws. Now it’s workplace health and safety. On August 16, the Ministry of Labour announced that between now and Oct. 16, it will conduct an extensive review of the province’s OHS laws.

What to Expect

The MOL’s new discussion paper offers insights into what we can expect. Specifically, the OHS review process will likely unfold the way the ESA/labour law reform process has. As with ESA/labour laws, the goal is to make up for years of legislative neglect—Alberta hasn’t done a systematic review of its OHS laws since their enactment back in 1976.

The other parallel between ESA/labour and OHS is in the approach. What the MOL apparently has in mind is not to invent a novel model but to borrow from the cutting edge examples of other provinces.

10 Things that Are Likely to Change

The MOL discussion paper also hints at what those changes may be, including:

  1. Letting OHS officers issue stop work orders right after incidents and at multiple sites of same employer;
  2. Expanding ticketing to a broader range of OHS violations;
  3. Clarifying injury and incident reporting rules;
  4. Requiring employers to provide notification of new projects;
  5. Clarifying workers’ rights under the OHS Act and ensuring those rights are commensurate with rights in other provinces;
  6. Requiring OHS awareness training a la Ontario;
  7. Beefing up worker protections against reprisals for exercising OHS rights;
  8. Stricter requirements for preventing occupational illnesses;
  9. Special protections for young workers; and
  10. Revisions to the COR/PIR program.
                                               Stay Tuned to OHSI
OHS Insider will keep a close eye on the Alberta situation and let you know not only what changes are in the works but how they affect you and what you’ll need to do to comply.