With new policies and joint workplace health and safety committees, Alberta workers see a safer future as they mourn for past losses
As hundreds of workers gather to remember those killed, injured, or made ill as a result of workplace incidents on the International Day of Mourning, workers also celebrate changes made by the Government of Alberta that will mean a safer future for Alberta workers.
For the first time since it was introduced in 1976, Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety Act saw comprehensive updates in November 2017 that will come into effect in 2018. For decades, Alberta was at the back of the pack for safety, with higher rates of injury than other Canadian jurisdictions. But with Bill 30, workers will gain new rights and protections in 2018 that are long overdue, and these rights and protections will have profound positive effects on workers’ safety.
The new legislation ensures workers have a voice in workplace health and safety through Joint Work Site Health and Safety Committees or Representatives at work sites with 5 or more employees. “The best way to keep workers safe is to give them the tools to keep themselves safe,” said Gil McGowan, President of the Alberta Federation of Labour. “And that’s exactly what joint health and safety committees with mandatory representation from workers will do.”
Bill 30 has also meant ongoing consultations on preventing violence and harassment in the workplace. “Government consultations are creating more robust and effective workplace policies to address harassment and violence,” said McGowan. “With changes to the Act, we are building a future where workplaces are free from violence and harassment.”
In Canada, roughly 1,000 workers die every year because of something that happened to them at work, and thousands more are seriously injured. “Every year on April 28 we remember the thousands of workers who have been killed, injured or suffered illness as a result of work-related incidents, and we re-commit to working towards ending workplace deaths and injuries,” said McGowan. “This year, while workers look to the past in mourning, we also look to 2018 with hope that new policies will mean safer workplaces. With these changes, we can work together to prevent worker injuries and deaths before they occur.”
The Alberta Federation of Labour will take part in the 2018 Day of Mourning on Saturday, April 28th, at 2:00 p.m. in Grant Notley Park, Edmonton.
Director of Communications, Alberta Federation of Labour
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