Alberta’s government seeks input on updates to OHS code; Saskatchewan adopted occupation health and safety changes in 2023

February 27, 2024 | Jeff N. Grubb, K.C., Ian Wilson

In a February 20, 2024 news release, the Alberta government expressed an intention to review and update the Occupational Health and Safety Code, Alta Reg 191/2021 (the “OHS Code”), the robust regulation that provides specific technical requirements for the control of various health and safety hazards found in or on Alberta’s workplaces.

As part of that intention, the government has invited Albertans to submit their input by way of an online survey, running from February 20 to March 19, 2024.

The government is encouraging workers, employers, and health and safety professionals to provide their feedback and comments on these important areas.

The news release indicates that the government hopes to obtain input on proposed updates to the OHS Code in order to reflect:

  • new best practices;
  • updated standards;
  • technological advances; and
  • streamlined requirements seeking to reduce administrative burden.

Additionally, the news release indicates that the government intends to align the OHS Code with similar legislation in other Canadian jurisdictions to better promote labour mobility and inter-provincial trade.

The current survey invites submissions on the following parts of the OHS Code:

  • Part 27 – Violence and harassment;
  • Part 33 – Explosives; and
  • Part 37 – Oil and gas wells.

The survey is seeking input on proposed changes to address the following general areas:

  • removing duplication of overlapping requirements;
  • improving the clarity of current requirements;
  • adding necessary definitions in key sections;
  • improving flexibility by changing prescriptive requirements to health and safety outcomes;
  • updating technical standards to reflect best practices; and
  • aligning the OHS Code with roles and responsibilities provided in the Occupational Health and Safety Act, SA 2020, c O-2.2.

Participants in the survey are also able to provide their general feedback to program staff for the purposes of the OHS Code.

Following a public consultation process similar to what is now occurring in Alberta, the Saskatchewan Government amended the occupational health and safety provisions of The Saskatchewan Employment Act on May 17, 2023. The amendments included:

  • Clarifying the definition of a worker to include secondary and post-secondary students so that they are covered by the occupational health and safety provisions in Part III of The Saskatchewan Employment Act;
  • Clarifying an employer’s duty and responsibility to ensure that incidents of harassment are investigated;
  • Requiring all workplaces, by May 17, 2024, to have a violence policy in place that will also apply to students, volunteers and contract workers and to investigate all incidents of violence in the workplace;
  • Clarifying the work and authority of occupational health officers to take photos and recordings during workplace inspections;
  • Providing authority for officers to exclude a person from an investigation interview if there is a perceived conflict. The person being interviewed would then be asked to nominate another person to attend the interview; and
  • Making housekeeping and general amendments necessary to keep the occupational health and safety legislation relevant and aligned with other legislative requirements in Saskatchewan.

Miller Thomson will continue to monitor and report on changes made to labour and employment legislation across Canada, and specifically on changes to the OHS Code in Alberta, as those changes arise. If you require additional information, please do not hesitate to contact our Labour and Employment team.


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