A new Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) system comes into effect in Alberta on June 1, a move the province promises will better protect workers and ensure they have the same rights as other Canadians.
“Every year, hardworking Albertans are killed or injured on the job. A strong health and safety workplace culture is essential to preventing work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths,” reads the Government of Alberta website.
The passing of the Act to Protect the Health and Well-being of Working Albertans in December 2017 updated the OHS Act and the workers’ compensation (WCB) system for the province, the first significant changes in over 40 years.
The June 1 changes provide clarity on three main issues for Albertans.
- The right to refuse dangerous work
- The right to know
- The right to participate
Right to refuse dangerous work
Workers have the right to refuse dangerous work and are protected from reprisal for exercising this right:
- Workers must continue to be paid while a work refusal is being investigated.
- Employers must ensure workers understand the hazards at the workplace, know what needs to be reported and have the support to exercise their right.
- Employers must investigate the matter in cooperation with the joint worksite health and safety committee or health and safety representative, if applicable.
- Employers cannot take or threaten discriminatory action against a worker for exercising their rights and duties under the legislation.
- Other workers may be assigned to the work if they are advised of the refusal, reason for it and are made aware of their own right to refuse work after the employer determines there is not a risk.
Right to know
Workers have the right to know of potential hazards and have access to basic health and safety information in the workplace:
- All employers must inform workers about potential hazards.
All worksite parties must ensure information on health and safety hazards is available onsite.
Right to participate
Workers have the right to be:
- Involved in health and safety discussions.
- Participate in health and safety committees.
“Alberta’s OHS Act sets the minimum standards for workplace health and safety and outlines the roles and responsibilities of employers and employees. When injuries do happen, a fair compensation system should support injured workers and help them get back to work. Improvements to the WCB system came into effect on January 1, 2018,” the Govt of Alberta site adds. “We’re committed to working with employers and employees to make sure all Albertans have access to safe, fair and healthy workplaces.”