Alberta workplace safety laws need to be improved

According to the Alberta Federation of Labour Friday, unless the province improves workplace safety law, economic recovery will only bring an increase in workplace injuries and fatalities.

Announcing four new workplace safety initiatives on the same day, Employment Minister Thomas Lukaszuk also said eight new Occupational Health and Safety officers had been hired.

Gil McGowan, Alberta Federation of Labour President said, while it was good news that Alberta's economy was returning to health, it was not good to find unless aggressive action was taken, there would be an increase in the injury levels and fatalities in the province.

The red flag, McGowan noted was that last month three work related deaths had taken place at three different work sites on three consecutive days.

Lukaszuk was handed a 10 point plan for safe workplaces in Alberta by the federation Friday, which say the government needs to hire more inspectors and authorising them to impose fines, including providing more funds for prosecutions and protecting workers blowing the whistle on unsafe workplaces.

As well, the federation would like new laws to be introduced in the province, making it mandatory for all work sites to form joint worker-employer safety committees, considering Alberta is the only province without such a law, as McGowan informed.

Employment Minister Thomas Lukaszuk announced Friday, Alberta will be hiring more inspectors and taking steps for improving driver safety and disease prevention on Alberta work sites.

A new best-practices driving guide for workers has been released by the province, and the Employment and Immigration staff has been asked to establish an occupational disease prevention programme by Lukaszuk.

Alberta launched its own 10-point plan for Occupational Health and Safety in July, following the Calgary Herald publishing an investigative series showing the province of Alberta was the least likely to penalize safety offenders.

Since, the province has introduced a stronger compliance system since the launching of the plan, including creating a template for employer records, launching a website with records of companies and reviewing the Work Safe Alberta initiative.

TopNews, United Kingdom, Sat Nov 6 2010
Byline: Rasik Sharma

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