2018 Changes to the Alberta OH&S Program
Updated: Jul 10, 2018
There will be several changes in 2018 to the OHS system to make several improvements with the goal of creating a better system that protects workers and ensures that they are enjoying the same rights as all other Canadians.
Most of the changes will come into effect June 1, 2018, and information can be found on the alberta.ca website. Below is a review of the changes that will soon go into effect.
Basic rights of workers
The changes will enshrine the three basic rights of workers in Alberta’s legislation:
The right to refuse unsafe work protects workers from any form of reprisal for exercising this right, including loss of compensation or benefits.
The right to know ensures workers are informed about potential hazards and have access to basic health and safety information in the workplace.
The right to participate ensures workers are involved in health and safety discussions, including participation in health and safety committees.
Responsibilities of worksite parties
The OHS system is grounded on the principle that everyone in the workplace is responsible for health and safety in the workplace.
Employers would be responsible for:
ensuring the health, safety and welfare of workers and the public
providing competent supervisors, training workers, and preventing violence and harassment
working with the joint worksite health and safety committee or health and safety representative
Supervisors would have would have legal responsibilities for OHS and be responsible for preventing violence and harassment.
Workers would be responsible for protecting their own and others’ health and safety at worksites and refraining from violence and harassment.
Contractors would be responsible for ensuring that work under their control does not endanger health and safety.
Prime contractors would be required in construction, oil and gas worksites or any other projects that are designated by the OHS director. They would also have added responsibilities to ensure worker health and safety.
Owners of worksites would be responsible for ensuring that property under their control does not endanger health and safety.
Suppliers would have to ensure their products are safe to use, and must include user instructions for all equipment, including leased equipment. They would also have to provide a notice when their product or equipment doesn’t comply with the law.
Service providers would have to ensure the services they provide comply with the laws, are provided by a competent person and do not create a hazard.
Self-employed persons would have responsibilities to ensure they do not create a hazard to others and to comply with OHS laws.
Temporary staffing agencies would have to comply with OHS laws and ensure worker health and safety.
Availability of information
Workers have the right to know of workplace health and safety hazards and employers have an obligation to provide this information. Changes to the act will:
enshrine a worker’s right to know about workplace hazards
require all worksite parties to ensure that information on health and safety hazards is provided onsite
Worksite health and safety committees and representatives
Joint worksite health and safety committees are important forums for workers to participate in OHS. They ensure supervisors and workers discuss health and safety issues in the workplace and work collaboratively to find ways to address them. These committees will be responsible for:
inspecting the work site for hazards
helping employers respond to health and safety concerns of workers
helping resolve unsafe work refusals
helping develop health and safety policies and safe work procedures
helping with new employee health and safety orientation
developing and promoting education and training programs
Changes will bring Alberta in line with the other provinces.