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Alberta's new Health & Safety rules: how you'll be affected

Safety checklist

Significant changes were made to the Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) Act  effective June 1, 2018. These changes will considerably increase your regulatory burden and come with potential tickets and penalties if you do not comply.

As the employer, you are ultimately responsible for the health and safety of all workers and anyone else at your workplace. You must ensure that all staff are adequately trained and informed before performing any task.

There are many noteworthy changes you need to be aware of, here are the ones you should know.

Preventing violence and harassment in the workplace

It is your duty to prevent harassment in the workplace. OHS now identifies psychological harm as a potential hazard. You are required to create a policy, conduct a hazard assessment, and implement protocols to address the potential risks (psychological harm should be approached in the same manner of any other hazard). As this is a major focus of the new changes, the Ministry of Labour has made available a sample template and more detailed information on your obligation as an employer.

If you have 5 to 19 employees…

One worker shall be appointed as a Health and Safety Representative. That representative is required to take additional employee training on workplace safety for a minimum of 16 hours (or two shifts worth, whichever is greater) per year.

If you have 20 or more employees...

You are required to form a Joint Work Site Health and Safety Committee (JWSHSC), consisting of minimum four people (half of which must be workers) and must meet at least quarterly. The committee must meet during work hours or will have to be paid for additional time spent on their duties in this role. Specialized safety training will also be required for committee members.

Health and Safety Program

Additionally, your company must formalize and implement an official Health and Safety Program, comprising of a minimum of 10 sections including

  • a health and safety policy,
  • hazard identification,
  • an emergency response plan,
  • responsibility statements,
  • inspection schedules,
  • protocols for visitors and thirdparties,
  • orientation and training plans,
  • investigation procedures,
  • worker participation guidelines,
  • and any industryspecific regulations that may pertain to your business
Roles and responsibilities

The role of the committee and representative is to advise and assist, not assume managerial responsibilities for health and safety in the workplace.

Committees and representatives help:

  • employers respond to health and safety concerns of workers
  • develop health and safety policies and safe work procedures
  • develop and promote education and training programs
  • participate in work site inspections and investigations
  • investigate worker reports of dangerous work and refusal to work
  • with health and safety orientations for new employees

Employers must:

  • provide adequate resources, time and training to help committees and representatives function effectively
  • hold meetings and carry out duties and functions during normal working hours
  • post the names and contact information of committee members and representatives where it can be seen by all workers

CFIB Business Counsellors take the pain out of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) compliance

CFIB Business Counsellors regularly review legislative requirements, update and create materials for members, and work with health and safety officers to answer member concerns. If you are a small- or medium-sized business owner and would like more information on your health and safety responsibilities, CFIB encourages you to reach out to us. We can be reached at [email protected] or by calling 1-888-234-2232.

CFIB column: Small businesses brace for more changes to employment rules