Edmonton (17 Dec. 2010) - Alberta Employment Minister Thomas Lukaszuk says he is disgusted and disappointed with the high number of workplace safety violations in the province.
"The results have been nothing but disappointing, and frankly, I have to tell you, I'm quite disgusted by the numbers that I have seen," Lukaszuk says.
Safety officers issued 39 stop-work orders during a six-week inspection blitz of the province's construction sites.
Officers carried out 298 initial and followup inspections of 146 construction employers on 70 sites across the province from Oct. 8 to Nov. 22.
A total of 214 orders were issued. Fifty-seven orders were issued for work sites that lacked a plan or proper equipment to prevent workers from suffering injury or death if they fall.
Another 49 orders were issued for work sites that lacked proper safeguards, like coverings for openings and guardrails.
Lukaszuk vowed to continue unannounced inspections until the industry gets the message.
"The hammer is coming down in Alberta and if we continue seeing numbers like these the hammer simply will be getting bigger and bigger," he said. "I take this very seriously and I expect that this will be a wake-up call."
Gil McGowan of the Alberta Federation of Labour says Lukaszuk must do more than talk tough.
"If he really wants to bring that hammer down, he has to put his money where his mouth is," McGowan argues. "He has to hire more inspectors, give them tools and resources to do their jobs and he has to prosecute employers who put their workers at risk."
Alberta has the lowest per-capita number of safety inspectors of any province in Canada, McGowan notes.
NUPGE Newsletter, Fri Dec 17 2010