Edmonton - Alberta's new website offering workplace injury and fatality records may be well intentioned, but gets a failing grade from the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL).
"This morning, we tried working with this new website. It does not give complete information, is not easily accessible, and is very difficult to understand," says Gil McGowan, President of the AFL which represents 140,000 workers.
The AFL took names of companies charged under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Employment Standards Code - see http://employment.alberta.ca/SFW/6751.html#top for details - and searched the new safety records website for information on those companies.
The new site offers information that is almost useless to the average citizen and in a format that is hard to navigate and digest.
- Clayton Construction Limited is facing seven charges, laid September 2, 2010, for an alleged offence involving a fatality on September 2, 2008. A search on the new site came up with "no results found."
- Canadian Natural Resources faces two charges from the same fatal event. The same company has also been charged in relation to three other fatalities and three injuries - or six of the 31 active charges (20 per cent) listed by Employment and Immigration. A search of the new site brings up three records for the company, two of which have references to Lost Time Claims (LTCs) in 2008, and LTC rates marginally above the rates for the industry, but no reference is made to the fatality or charges.
- Central Alberta Well Services Corp. faces five charges for an alleged offence on August 26, 2008. A search on the new website results in a dizzying array of eight records for the company, under varying Industry Name segments, each giving different Lost Time Claim statistics.
"This kind of information may be of some use to professional researchers and statisticians, but it is bewildering and meaningless to average citizens and workers trying to find out if employers do a good job on health and safety," says McGowan.
While the AFL is pleased that more information is being published than in other jurisdictions, that information is of little use in its current form, says McGowan. The website also fails to include the most important data - a full record of violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Code.
"Albertans need to know how many times employers have been written up by health and safety officers and those reports should be posted, the same way some jurisdictions post health-inspector reports done on restaurants. We also think the website should have information about all 'stop-work' and/or 'stop-use' orders that have been issued to Alberta companies for safety violations," he says.
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Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour @ 780-218-9888 (cell)