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New rules intended to protect Alberta workers

Last Updated Jun 4, 2018 at 10:39 am MDT

After staying static for several decades, new health and safety rules aimed at keeping workers safe in Alberta went into effect Friday.

“The best way to keep workers safe is to give them tools to keep themselves safe,” said Gil McGowan, President of the Alberta Federation of Labour.

NDP Minister of Labour Christina Gray said it gives workers the right to refuse dangerous work, know about potential hazards, have access to basic health and safety information and to be involved in safety discussions.

“The Joint Worksite Health and Safety Committees are now mandatory when you have 20 or more workers and worksites with five to 19 workers must have a health and safety representative,” she said.

However, some businesses say they aren’t ready, arguing they don’t have the material they need from the province to implement the changes.

“As the Alberta government is still developing and releasing workplace safety tools, the responsible thing for the Minister of Labour to do is to allow a grace period for small business owners to adapt,” said Amber Ruddy, Alberta Director of Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). “Will the Alberta government commit to focus on education before resorting to punitive ticketing?”

CFIB says three out of four Alberta businesses are worried they may be unfairly penalized.

“Businesses owners want to comply, but the intricate details of their new obligations are catching small firms off guard,” said Ruddy.

For more information, visit the Occupational Health and Safety tab at Alberta.ca.