Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Employers whine about first OHS review in 41 years

Last week, Alberta announced a review of its occupational health and safety system. Alberta has not done a comprehensive review of its OHS system since it was created in 1976. 

Not surprisingly, employers representatives (such as the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses) were quick to whine about the government reviewing whether it is possible to make workplaces safer and reduce injuries and fatalities for the first time in 41 years. 

According to the government press release:
The review will examine the OHS Act, as well as compliance, enforcement, education, engagement and prevention efforts in Alberta’s OHS system. It will also clarify employer and worker responsibilities, improve worker engagement and maintain Alberta’s strong focus on illness and injury prevention.
There is both a discussion paper and an online survey. Opportunities to submit feedback close on October 16. The discussion paper hints that mandatory joint health and safety committee and greater government enforcement are under consideration. The paper also suggests a need to create (and disseminate) more robust data about occupational injury.

Based on what we have seen from Alberta’s government so far, it is likely that the whatever OHS changes occur will be along the lines of bringing Alberta’s legislation back into the Canadian mainstream. Some specific issues we may see swept into these changes include violence (or, at least, robbery) prevention in gas stations and convenience stores, anti-harassment provisions, and OHS regulations for farm and ranch workers.

-- Bob Barnetson

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