Following closely on the heels of its changes to the Labour Relations Code and the Employment Standards Code, Alberta has passed new occupational health and safety legislation. Employers must quickly get up to speed on these changes, as most of the provisions will be in effect as of June 1, 2018.
While the legislation represents significant change for Alberta, a number of these changes now make Alberta’s occupational health and safety legislation more consistent with that of other provinces.
Some of the more important changes include the following:
- There are new categories of workplace participants who have work site responsibilities and roles, one of the most notable of which is temporary staffing agencies. In addition, there have been changes to some existing roles and responsibilities.
- Joint Work Site Health and Safety Committees will now be required for employers who employ 20 or more workers with work expected to last 90 days or more. Further, employers who employ five to 19 workers with work expected to last 90 days or more must designate a Health and Safety Representative. Previously, this was not mandatory.
- Health and safety is now defined to include physical, psychological, and social well-being. In addition, the new legislation includes specific definitions of harassment and violence and places requirements on employers, supervisors and workers with respect to prevention of these actions.
- Workers have the right to refuse dangerous work where they reasonably believe that the work constitutes a danger to their own health and safety or that of others. Previously, workers had a duty to refuse work that met the definition of “imminent danger”.
These are just a few of the many changes that will soon be in effect in Alberta. We recommend that employers review the changes and seek timely advice to ensure that they are in compliance with these requirements.