Workers in Alberta can now look up the health and safety record of their employers online, but critics aren't convinced the information tells the full story.
The government launched the new website Thursday. It allows people to search a database and receive information about loss time claims and rates at companies as well as on-the-job fatalities at those places.
"It is so Albertans have a good idea of their employer or prospective employer's record on health and safety," said Chris Chodan with Alberta Employment and Immigration.
Gil McGowan with the Alberta Federation of Labour said the government said the website would be a one-stop shop for people interested in their employer's record, but that is not what has been delivered.
"What we got instead was a site that hides employment safety records behind a wall of confusing and downright useless information."
The site allows people to search by industry, company name and city and provides information on companies using data from the Workers' Compensation Board (WCB).
McGowan said the problem with loss time claim rates is that employers report them and when they rise, so do their WCB premium rates.
He said while they don't have firm statistics, his group has heard many reports of employers putting employees on modified duties or otherwise not reporting loss hours to keep their claims down.
"You shouldn't be using statistics that can be so easily compromised."
McGowan said they would like to see provincially issued stop-work orders and stop-use orders listed on the site and would also like to see inspection reports that the province does at worksites as part of the database.
Chodan said stop-work orders and inspection reports could be added over time, but for right now they went with the loss time claim numbers because they are universal.
'They are known as a universally recognized statistic," he said. "It is a standard that has to be reported."
McGowan has also cited many examples of workplace accidents or charges that aren't listed on the site. He said the information in some cases just isn't there for some companies or is harder to find in other cases.
"It simply doesn't have the information on the website that workers need."
Chodan said in some cases there are multiple companies at a site where a fatality or accident occurred. He said in other cases one company can be charged for an accident that affected an employee of another firm.
"The company that gets charged might not be the actual employer."
There is one missing piece of information on a local company's profile - Mitchell Tanner, an employee at the Rona store died on the job in 2008, but that information is not part of the company's profile.
The address for the website is www.employment.alberta.ca/employerrecords.
St. Albert Gazette, Sat Oct 02 2010
By Ryan Tumilty