Workplace safety regulations tightened

Stricter workplace safety regulations could see Alberta employers who experience on-site fatalities or serious injuries lose their government accreditation.

Minister of Employment and Immigration Thomas Lukaszuk announced Thursday the implementation of stricter guidelines for companies to keep their Certificate of Recognition (COR).

"Losing a COR is bad for business," Lukaszuk said. "However, Albertans have the right to work in safe and healthy conditions. We're putting employers on notice: after July 1, we'll be launching reviews as soon after a workplace incident as possible."

The changes, which come into effect on July 1, would see the implementation of an employer review process in instances of fatalities or serious injuries, or when two or more stop work orders are issued within a 12 month period.

During the review period employers will not be eligible for financial incentives afforded by having a COR.

The changes were welcomed by the Alberta Federation of Labour, with the caveat that more work needs to be done.

"The COR program is flawed and ineffective," said AFL president Gil McGowan. "While the stricter guidelines announced today are a step in the right direction, they are not enough to reduce workplace deaths and injuries."

Alberta Liberal Employment and Immigration Critic Harry Chase agreed that proposed changes are a step in the right direction, but warned that employers need to be scrutinized to ensure they follow the rules.

“Financial incentives come with a risk,” Chase said. “Some unscrupulous employers may be tempted to underreport workplace injuries to avoid losing COR certification. The minister needs to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

The COR program is voluntary, though approximately 50 per cent of Alberta workers work for companies with COR.

Global BC, Thurs Jun 2 2011
Byline: Ryan Ellis

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