Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Athabasca University fails OHS inspection

An out of order defibrillator on the 8th floor 
of AU's Peace Hills Trust location. So if you are
having a heart attack, please proceed to the (locked) 
11th or 12th floors. (photo supplied)
If Athabasca University were looking for a new year’s resolution, it might consider complying with Alberta's Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The university was subjected to a complaint-driven inspection in late November and compliance orders were placed on various campuses.

AU was ordered to remedy the following violations of the OHS Act:
  • AU could not demonstrate that the membership and contact info of the joint occupational health and safety committees were posted at the Athabasca campus (s.23(1) of the Act).
  • AU could not demonstrate workers were aware of their rights under the OHS Act, Code and regulations (s.3(1) of the Act).
  • AU could not demonstrate a new worker orientation or other safety training was provided (s.3(2) of the Act).
It was also ordered to produce hazard assessments, violence harassment plans, work refusal procedures, and contractor procedures. The one hazard assessment I saw last fall was 14 years old and did not appear to apply the hierarchy of controls to the hazards it identified.

There were other orders issued that I have not yet seen a copy of. In the last weeks of December, AU was scrambling to populate the joint workplace committees it should have formed back in June.

Overall, failing to meet rudimentary OHS requirements raises some pretty profound questions about the institution’s commitment to worker safety and the competence of its Human Resources office (which is responsible for this).

-- Bob Barnetson


Anonymous said...

Interesting choice of photo as a demonstration of non-compliance. Availability of AED's in the workplace is not legislated in the OHS Code.

In addition, I would suggest that Athabasca is further ahead in terms of safety than some other post-secondary institutes as is demonstrated by their successfully passing a Certificate of Recognition audit. A large portion of the audit score (over 30%)comes from employee interview responses.

Bob Barnetson said...

Thanks for your note, Anonymous.

The non-functional AED was chosen because (1) it illustrates AU’s lack of attention to worker safety (“here’s some safety gear… that doesn’t work”), and (2) it is difficult to photo illustrate the absence of things such as training.

I have no idea I AU is further ahead of other PSEs or not. The point is that they are not compliant with some pretty basic OHS stuff.

On the COR, I was interviewed for the original COR. I flagged a lot of these sorts of issues, and the auditor indicated my comments were typical. And yet we got the COR anyhow. Make of that what you will.