Hazardous material violations lead pack of workplace safety infractions: Lukaszuk announces results of targeted inspections
EDMONTON - Provincial inspectors found at least one safety violation in 70 per cent of workplaces that often employ young people.
No workplaces were issued a stop-work order for the most serious safety issues.
Employment and Immigration Minister Thomas Lukaszuk announced the results of the targeted inspection Tuesday. The inspectors targeted places like fast food restaurants and convenience stores, which commonly employ young people between 15 and 24 years old.
Lukaszuk said the results were an improvement from previous inspections, but there's still a long way to go.
"They handed in their homework, but they didn't pass," he said of employers.
The campaign was part of a round of inspections that Occupational Health and Safety are conducting in addition to regular inspections. Commercial construction sites and workplaces that use forklifts have also been inspected in the past year, where stop-work orders were issued.
Bob Barnetson, a professor of labour relations at Athabasca University, said these are not positive findings, and they fit with results of other targeted inspections.
"The general pattern is widespread non-compliance with Alberta's safety laws," he said.
Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, said more inspections are a big step in the right direction, but necessary follow-ups haven't happened.
"Wherever the government looks, they're finding a disturbing number of violations. That tells me that there is a very serious problem with the workplace safety culture here in Alberta," he said.
Barnetson said that these results are "just more evidence that we need something between asking politely and prosecuting."
He said Lukaszuk promised the tools to address the issues in the spring, but hasn't introduced them.
"My guess is he's going to introduce ticketing, so, if there's an infraction, investigators will be able to issue a ticket on the spot," he said.
The government chooses inspection campaigns based on where it knows infractions occur most often.
"Young workers are typically thought particularly vulnerable, in part because they're inexperienced, but also because they're hired into crappy jobs," Barnetson said.
Young people are often afraid to speak up, said Joan Schiebelbein, director of the University of Alberta career centre CAPS.
"Young people say, well, if I speak up, I'm going to lose my job," she said.
"Some people would say, I just don't want to work for that employer anymore, and leave it at that."
Occupational Health and Safety inspected 118 workplaces. There were 181 orders issued for hazardous materials, hazard assessment, first-aid training, emergency preparedness and other violations.
Edmonton Journal, Tues July 5 2011
Byline: Lana Cuthbertson
Alberta workers seriously injured on the job in the past two years stayed home longer afterwards due to a soft economy with fewer opportunities for "modified work," the Workers' Compensation Board said Thursday.
"Opportunities present themselves when the economy is good. When it is not, we need to find them," said Guy Kerr, president and CEO of Alberta's WCB, speaking at the board's annual general meeting in Calgary on Thursday.
The modified work program allows employees to return to the workplace and take on a less-rigorous task even while they recover from an on-the-job injury. The WCB says modified work boosts morale, while also decreasing a worker's time off and reducing the costs associated with each claim.
According to the WCB's 2010 annual report, the drop in modified work started in 2009 and continued into last year.
The WCB measured this by the increase in the average time it takes for an injured worker to return to a job.
For employees injured seriously enough to have to take time off work, the average number of days absent was 32.1 in 2008. By 2010, that number had jumped to 36.1.
Overall, Kerr characterized the board as functioning smoothly.
He said the province has a "stable, affordable and effective" workers' compensation system, and client surveys show that 85 per cent of employers and more than 78 per cent of workers are satisfied with WCB services.
However, a number of workers and their advocates at the meeting expressed concern about the modified work program, and listed a number of other WCB grievances.
Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, held a press conference prior to the meeting to highlight the role the board played in the illegal release of one worker's medical information -as ruled on by Alberta's privacy commissioner this week. "This kind of slapdash approach to medical privacy is simply not acceptable," said McGowan.
McGowan also said the WCB sometimes pushes workers back to work too quickly, before they're ready -largely through the modified work program.
"We think this is an organization that puts a priority on reducing premiums for employers," McGowan said.
Richard Truscott, Alberta director of the Canadian Federation for Independent Business, said he wishes there was time allowed for more than just a few questions during the meeting. For instance, he wanted to ask about increasing average insurance rates paid by employers.
"Maybe they need to have an annual general meeting, but also have a series of stakeholder meetings."
Truscott added it's likely opportunities for modified work will improve this year and next as the province's economy revs up.
Although the Alberta WCB is a government-created entity, it is not a provincial department or crown corporation, but an employer-funded insurance body.
The board is meant to provide workers or their families with predictable, dependable benefits in the event of injury or death.
The trade-off is in most cases workers are unable to sue their employers.
Calgary mechanic Peter Harvey, also at the meeting, said he was injured while working on a truck in November 2005. "I wrenched my shoulder," Harvey said.
He wanted to talk to the board Thursday about his case because he believes he hasn't been treated fairly, and the WCB hasn't recognized that he will never be able to do physical work again. Harvey is still getting some benefits, but said he is now "close to bankruptcy."
He has now hired a consultant to help him.
"It is life, but what workers comp does is makes it worse," Harvey said.
Calgary Herald, Fri Jun 17 2011
Byline: Kelly Cryderman
Privacy breach leads to demand for WCB investigation: Opportunity to overhaul failing system must not be ignored, say AFL
The Alberta Workers' Compensation Board is failing in its duty towards injured employees and only a full investigation and overhaul can fix the problems, says the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL).
"A ruling this week by the privacy commissioner that the personal medical information of a claimant was illegally released underscores bigger problems at the WCB," says Gil McGowan, president of the AFL, which represents 145,000 workers.
"Today, as the WCB holds its annual meeting, I am calling on Employment and Immigration Minister Thomas Lukaszuk to launch a probe into the way the WCB operates, the way it handles privacy issues and the way it treats injured workers," says McGowan.
Gail Cumming, an Edmonton WCB expert and CEO with Cumming Consulting, says the Alberta WCB has a history of complaints about personal and medical privacy being violated, created by a lack of leadership and staff resources.
"The root of the problem is the WCB's focus on rushing injured workers back to the workplace, in order to keep employer premiums down, rather than on caring for people who have been hurt," says Cumming.
McGowan says there must be serious consequences to the illegal privacy violation.
"This matter must not be swept under the rug, or shelved and forgotten. If a doctor or a nurse illegally released patient information, they would face serious consequences from their professional organizations," says McGowan.
"For a long time, the WCB has been putting the needs of employers, and the desire to hide Alberta's true workplace safety records, ahead of the interests of injured workers. This ruling by the privacy commissioner gives Lukaszuk the perfect opportunity to fix things," says McGowan.
"Responding to a question on the WCB, the minister recently told the Alberta Legislature: 'We have the ability to respond to issues as they arise.' Well, the privacy commissioner has clearly pointed out an issue that has arisen. The minister must respond now, or explain why he won't."
- 30 -
MEDIA CONTACT: Gil McGowan, AFL president, 780-218-9888
Alberta is implementing stricter guidelines for its Certificate of Recognition (COR) system aimed at boosting scrutiny of COR-holding companies that experience workplace deaths and serious injuries.
"Losing a COR is bad for business," Thomas Lukaszuk, the province's employment and immigration minister, said in a June 2 statement announcing the changes that take effect July 1. "However, Albertans have the right to work in safe and healthy conditions. We're putting employers on notice: after July 1, we'll be launching reviews as soon after a workplace incident as possible," Lukaszuk added.
Under the province's Partnerships in Injury Reduction (PIR) program, a company can earn a certificate by developing a health and safety management system and meeting established standards. COR-holding firms are eligible for rebates of up to 20 per cent on their Workers' Compensation Board premiums and are able to bid on contracts where a COR is a prerequisite.
Following a stakeholder review of PIR beginning in 2009, and some criticism of the program from Alberta's auditor general in 2010, the government is changing the criteria around the program's employer review process, which is used when deciding if a company's COR should be revoked.
As of July 1, the following may lead to a formal review of an employer's COR: a fatality or serious injury/incident; two or more stop-work orders within 12 months; and, ongoing Alberta oh&s officer activity that indicates possible health and safety issues.
Such things could have triggered an employer review in the past, but the criteria is now better defined, says Barrie Harrison, an Alberta Employment and Immigration (AEI) spokesman.
Also under the new rules, a certified company that is charged under the Occupational Health and Safety Act will see its PIR rebate withheld, pending the outcome of the charges. The same is true for COR holders whose certificates are under review.
A formal employer review is not necessarily automatic under the new criteria, Harrison says. AEI staff will first informally assess certified companies and determine if, "based on the circumstances of what has gone on, an employer review will be triggered."
For instance, AEI information notes that a formal review leading to possible COR revocation will not occur when fatalities are related to non-occupational medical conditions, such as a heart attack. A review also won't be spurred by occupational diseases linked to the actions of an employer prior to its achievement of a COR or by non-occupational motor vehicle deaths.
Certified companies that do receive a formal review will be required to develop and implement action plans focused on making improvements to the workplace, AEI notes. If a COR holder finds itself in trouble again within two years, it must arrange for and pass an external audit. Failure to create a satisfactory action plan or to score at least 80 per cent on the audit will result in COR cancellation.
Only four businesses have lost CORs since 2004
Over the past seven years, just four companies have lost their certificates due to failed audits ordered following the employer review process.
Harrison says the labour minister has no expectations as to whether this number will jump significantly under the new criteria. "It's really a situation in which time will tell," he says, adding that Lukaszuk is more concerned about the quality of CORs rather than the quantity.
Gary Wagar, executive director of the Alberta Construction Safety Association, doesn't foresee a notable increase in the number of construction employers being decertified. What will likely rise is the number of COR holders having to draft action plans and the number whose PIR rebates are delayed, he adds.
Certified construction employers "are good companies and they do everything they can to provide a healthy and safe work site," says Wagar, whose association is one of 13 certifying partners that jointly issue CORs with the government.
Meanwhile, the Alberta Federation of Labour offered a mixed reaction to the new criteria. "While the stricter guidelines... are a step in the right direction, they are not enough to reduce workplace deaths and injuries," president Gil McGowan argues in a release.
Canadian OH&S News, Mon Jun 13 2011
Provincial safety accreditation is now on the line for employers not in the business of providing safe workplaces for their employees.
Starting July 1 — Canada Day — Alberta employers who experience on-site fatalities, serious injuries or multiple stop work orders may face an immediate review of their safety accreditation.
Alberta Employment and Immigration Minister Thomas Lukaszuk introduced changes Thursday to strengthen the occupational health and safety accreditation program for employers in Alberta.
And if their Certificate of Recognition is pulled, those employers won't receive their annual Partnerships in Injury Reduction rebates from the Workers' Compensation Board - Alberta and won't be able to bid on certain projects.
Most corporations including government of Alberta will not accept bids for any jobs unless the company has COR.
"If you want to build anything for this province, bridge, road, highway, building, we expect you to hold a valid COR certificate. Not having one precludes you basically from participating in the majority of projects in this province."
Lukaszuk announced three trigger points to "spark automatic review and if you don't comply, pulling of the COR certificate." He warned employers "now that I've increased the number of occupational health and safety officers, the odds of them showing up at your job site is much better than they were before."
Those triggers are: if there is a fatality, serious injury or incident; if two or more stop work orders are issued within a 12-month period; or if ongoing OHS officer activity indicates possible health and safety issues.
Lukaszuk pointed out that multiple stop work orders can be issued during a single visit to an employers depending on what an investigator finds.
If the review finds the business no longer meets the requirement for a COR, "it will be pulled and then you're losing your refund for that year, which can hit your pocketbook quite heavily, but more importantly you are precluded from bidding on any project with the majority of contractors in Alberta," he told Today.
In addition, there is the cost of the reinvestment by the employer to return health and safety practices and protocols to OH&S standards for the COR to be reissued.
"The COR program is flawed and ineffective, as the Auditor General pointed out in a damning report last year," said Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour. "While the stricter guidelines announced (Thursday) are a step in the right direction, they are not enough to reduce workplace deaths and injuries."
For these new guidelines to work, the system must be completely transparent, but the government has already proved it lacks the courage to make public the full safety records of employers, he added. It promised to post records nearly a decade ago, but bowed to industry lobbyists and launched a watered-down website that provides only lost-time claims a meaningless statistic that excludes the majority of workplace injuries.
"I made an undertaking about a year and a half ago to crack down on occupational health and safety and to somewhat shift the balance. It shifted the wrong way," he acknowledged.
The balance at that time between education and enforcement weighed more heavily towards enforcement.
There are 9,000 players — representing about 50% of all working Albertans — that hold a valid COR certificate which is awarded to them by certifying partners in industry.
"It's sort of like a college of business that award you this certificate after a thorough review of your business, safety practices and protocols. That then entitles you to a partial refund of your WCB premiums at the end of the year which could be very significant," said Lukaszuk.
"Some $70 million annually is given back to those COR holders."
However, one of the weaknesses he said he identified was that over time, employers may let that commitment to COR standards slide.
"Once you get certified as living up to the requirements of COR, there really were no trigger methods to review you from time to time if you still conform to the requirements of COR. So in my opinion, having a COR certificate simple meant that you, at one point in time, have perhaps complied, but you may or may not be complying right now."
He won't be too upset if a company has its COR pulled, but Lukaszuk said, "if the certifying partners pull the COR, then trust me, I won't be feeling sad. I'll be glad that we removed that player from action."
In gauging reaction from employers from the tougher rules, Lukaszuk said he prefers to introduce such game-changing in collaboration with those involved.
"One thing I learned in a hurry: if you don't have a buy-in to begin with, you're buying yourself a lot of bad road and then you really have to heavily enforce. So with all these new measures that I put into place over the last year, I always try to collaborate with the labour movement and with the employers and with the safety associations.
"I think I have relative buy-in from all the players."
Fort McMurray Today, Fri Jun 3 2011
Byline: Carol Christian
A voluntary safety accreditation program that entitles employers to earn WCB premium rebates and bid on lucrative government contracts is being abused, admits Employment Minister Thomas Lukaszuk.
Lukaszuk announced Thursday that companies holding Certificates of Recognition (COR) that entitled them to $77 million in WCB rebates last year alone are going to have to start explaining why they still have accidents and fatalities.
"For the most part, Alberta's 9,000 COR holders have a record to be proud of. They have developed effective health and safety programs that practice what they preach and they are proud of their performance record," Lukaszuk said. "However, I believe there are some companies that are more interested in the Workers' Compensation Board premium rebates than their ability to keep the workplace as safe as it should be. Beginning July 1, this will come to an end."
Responding to concerns raised by the provincial auditor general last year, Lukaszuk said companies enrolled in the program will have their safety accreditation reviewed if they have on-site fatalities, serious injuries or multiple stop-work orders.
If they are found to not have adequate safety programs in place, they could have their certification revoked, he explained.
"Make no mistake, COR is a big deal to industry," Lukaszuk told reporters as children played safely in a mock Alberta Safety Council village in east Edmonton.
A Calgary Herald investigation last year revealed companies that have serious and fatal accidents still received rebates under the program.
Safety accredited employers are entitled to WCB rebates of about three per cent annually, which Lukaszuk says translates into hundreds of thousands of dollars for some of the largest employers.
Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan called the program "an unmitigated failure."
"The government has been handing out these certificates like candy and very little effort was made to determine whether employers actually deserved them," he said.
While he said the changes are a start, McGowan expressed concern the reviews and audits of COR companies will not be public.
"If employers lose their certificate, we think that should be publicized because workers deserve to know," McGowan said.
NDP MLA Rachel Notley said she doesn't think the measures will make a difference in decreasing Alberta's workplace fatalities, which are among the highest in Canada.
"The way you make work sites safer is by providing a meaningful role for employees to get involved in the development of health and safety plans on a day-to-day basis," she said. "We're one of the few provinces in the country that doesn't have mandatory joint work site health and safety committees."
Alberta Liberal MLA Harry Chase said the new measures announced Thursday can only work if the government ensures employers don't pressure employees not to report workplace injuries.
"Financial incentives come with a risk," he said. "Unscrupulous employers may be tempted to under-report workplace injuries to avoid losing COR certification."
Alberta injury expert Dr. Louis Francescutti, president of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, says he believes that's already happening.
He said it makes no sense that the number of hours lost due to injuries in Alberta are supposedly decreasing as fatalities are steadily climbing.
"The numbers you can't cheat on are the fatalities," he said. "You can't hide a dead body."
One hundred and thirty-six Albertans died on the job last year; 110 the year before that.
Lukaszuk says he is also considering regulations that will allow workplace inspectors to fine employers and employees on the spot for safety violations rather than launch cumbersome legal proceedings.
Calgary Herald, Fri Jun 6 2011
Byline: Darcy Henton
June 2011: Join Together Alberta campaign; minimum wage; AB govt code of silence; workers at risk in AB
Join Together Alberta launches campaign to save education, health and social services
- Alberta is one of the wealthiest jurisdictions in the world, and yet up to 1,200 teachers and hundreds of school support staff facing layoffs. Meanwhile, post-secondary education and social services are also facing funding cutbacks. The math just doesn't add up – and that's because Alberta's revenue system is broken. Join Together Alberta, a coalition of community groups, social-services agencies and unions has launched a campaign to reform the province's revenue system – and save our services. For AFL Release, Our Alberta Declaration, Town Hall Tour List and http://www.jointogetheralberta.ca/
AFL pushes minister to raise minimum wage
- After two years with minimum-wage levels stuck at $8:80 per hour, and a concerted AFL campaign to push for more, Employment and Immigration Minister Thomas Lukaszuk finally announced an increase was coming. Unfortunately, he introduced a two-tier system - with liquor servers who earn tips getting a lower rate than other workers. In a 'mean-spirited' move, the minister revealed that workers would have to wait three more months for the raises to kick in. For more and "Message to Minister Lukaszuk" release
Alberta government's code of silence exposed
- Edmonton Journal writer Sheila Pratt revealed the code of silence that the government of Alberta attempts to impose on critics. She quoted AFL president Gil McGowan: "So the message has been crystal clear – toe the line and you get access. Refuse to play along and you get added to the long list of Albertans who are excluded." Want an example of how Alberta politics works? Pratt says doctors who wanted to improve health care in ways at odds with government policies were told "if you go public, you won't get anywhere." For more information and for Edmonton Journal story
Government continues to put Alberta workers at risk
- An Edmonton murder trial heard that workplace health-and-safety problems played a role in the slaying of the accused's wife, but when called upon to investigate, the Ministry of Employment and Immigration's initial response was to say it could do nothing because a complaint had not been filed. It was only after media reaction that minister Thomas Lukaszuk ordered his investigators to take action. "The government's complaints-driven process is a failure," says AFL president Gil McGowan. "The only way to keep workplaces safe is for a proactive campaign of vigorous and frequent random inspection by inspectors with real powers to punish violators. Instead, this government chooses to wait for complaints to be filed and reacts to them – literally waiting until people are hurt before taking action." For more information ...
- Support your postie – by dancing! - The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) has filed strike notice and its members may stop work as early as Thursday, June 2. They are fighting against proposed cuts in wages and benefits and for safer working conditions and an improved public postal service. Whether or not a walkout has begun, show your support for your local posties by going to a public rally/dance in Edmonton at 8 p.m. on Friday, June 3. For more Stay tuned for updates in the coming days and weeks at www.afl.org, www.cupw.ca, www.cupwedm.net and www.cupwcalgary.org
- Five reasons to support postal workers – and how:
- June 2-3: HSAA Annual General Meeting
- June 4: International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression
- June 5: World Environment Day
- June 6: Join Together Alberta Town Hall, Red Deer
- June 7: Join Together Alberta Town Hall, Medicine Hat
- June 9: Join Together Alberta Town Hall, Grande Prairie
- June 11: Edmonton Pride Parade
- June 15: Join Together Alberta Town Hall, Calgary
- June 16: Join Together Alberta Town Hall, Lethbridge
- June 20: World Refugee Day
- June 21: Join Together Alberta Town Hall, Fort McMurray
- June 21-22: AFL Executive Committee and Council Meetings
- June 23: Join Together Alberta Town Hall, Edmonton
- June 27: AFL Joint Standing Committee Meeting: Education, Human Rights & Int'l. Solidarity, Pride and Solidarity, Workers of Colour and Aboriginal Workers, Political Action
- June 28: AFL Joint Standing Committee Meeting: Environment, Health and Safety, Women, Young Workers
- July 1: Canada Day
- July 3: International Day of Co-operatives
- July 11: World Population Day
Did you know ...
- Corporate profits in Alberta are up 400 per cent
- The provincial economy is 75-per-cent larger than the national average
- The provincial government has missed its targets on collecting royalties from oil and gas companies, missing out on about $37 billion in revenue
- Corporate tax cuts are costing the Alberta government about $1 billion per year
- Alberta has no public debt
- Alberta's spending on social services is barely keeping up with population growth
- Provincial spending is declining as a share of the total economy
Jobsite fatalities, serious injuries or multiple stop work orders will force an immediate review of employers safety accreditation staring July 1, according to new rules introduced by the province Thursday.
The povince will make it harder for companies to keep their safety Certificate of Recognition or COR.
About 9,000 of 160,000 companies in the province hold the certificate which means they have approved safety programs in place.
Those companies however employ more than 40 per cent of Alberta workers.
Employers without the certificate do not receive annual Partnerships in Injury Reduction rebates from the Workers’ Compensation Board - Alberta (WCB) and cannot bid on certain projects, particularly government infrastructure projects, said Employment Minister Thomas Lukaszuk.
“Losing a COR is bad for business,” said Lukaszuk. “However, Albertans have the right to work in safe and healthy conditions."
If a company is placed under review, it must develop an action plan focused on making improvements to the workplace.
The COR program was a good idea, but poorly executed, said Gil McGowan, Alberta Federation of Labour.
"For years now this provincial government has been handing out CORs like they were candy," he said. "Any employer that asked for one got them without having to prove they had a good health and safety program in place."
McGowan pointed out that last year the Auditor General identified 63 employers that persistently failed health-and-safety orders, and that about half of them still held CORs.
CBC News, Thurs Jun 2 2011
Stricter workplace safety regulations could see Alberta employers who experience on-site fatalities or serious injuries lose their government accreditation.
Minister of Employment and Immigration Thomas Lukaszuk announced Thursday the implementation of stricter guidelines for companies to keep their Certificate of Recognition (COR).
"Losing a COR is bad for business," Lukaszuk said. "However, Albertans have the right to work in safe and healthy conditions. We're putting employers on notice: after July 1, we'll be launching reviews as soon after a workplace incident as possible."
The changes, which come into effect on July 1, would see the implementation of an employer review process in instances of fatalities or serious injuries, or when two or more stop work orders are issued within a 12 month period.
During the review period employers will not be eligible for financial incentives afforded by having a COR.
The changes were welcomed by the Alberta Federation of Labour, with the caveat that more work needs to be done.
"The COR program is flawed and ineffective," said AFL president Gil McGowan. "While the stricter guidelines announced today are a step in the right direction, they are not enough to reduce workplace deaths and injuries."
Alberta Liberal Employment and Immigration Critic Harry Chase agreed that proposed changes are a step in the right direction, but warned that employers need to be scrutinized to ensure they follow the rules.
“Financial incentives come with a risk,” Chase said. “Some unscrupulous employers may be tempted to underreport workplace injuries to avoid losing COR certification. The minister needs to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
The COR program is voluntary, though approximately 50 per cent of Alberta workers work for companies with COR.
Global BC, Thurs Jun 2 2011
Byline: Ryan Ellis
Workplace safety move welcomed, but far more must be done, says AFL: Government must make Certificates of Recognition program transparent or it will fail
The Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) welcomed today’s move by the provincial government to improve workplace health and safety, but says changes to the Certificate of Recognition (COR) do not go far enough.
“The COR program is flawed and ineffective, as the Auditor General pointed out in a damning report last year,” says Gil McGowan, president of the AFL, which represents 145,000 workers. “While the stricter guidelines announced today (Thursday) are a step in the right direction, they are not enough to reduce workplace deaths and injuries.”
Employment and Immigration Minister Thomas Lukaszuk announced that employers who experience on-site fatalities, serious injuries or multiple stop-work orders would face reviews of their safety accreditation and would find it harder to keep CORs. These certificates can be used to help win contracts and qualify for reduced premiums for the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB). Last year, the Auditor General identified 63 employers that persistently failed health-and-safety orders, and that about half of them still held CORs.
“The government handed out CORs like candy – and did little or nothing to take them away from problem employers. It admits that only four companies have lost COR certification in the last seven years due to failed audits. For far too long, Alberta workers have been hurt or killed while bad employers escaped penalty. This has to stop,” says McGowan.
“For these new guidelines to work, the system must be completely transparent. Unfortunately, the government has already proved it lacks the courage to make public the full safety records of employers. It promised to post records nearly a decade ago, but bowed to industry lobbyists and launched a watered-down website that provides only Lost-Time Claims (LTCs), a meaningless statistic that excludes the majority of workplace injuries,” he says.
The AFL says the government must also do more to prevent injuries and death, rather than waiting to react after a tragedy has taken place. It released a 10-point plan to improve safety with recommendations including more inspectors with more powers, more prosecutions of problem employers, protection for workers who blow the whistle on unsafe practices, and mandatory joint health-and-safety committees for workers and employers.
“Most of these policies are already in place in other provinces. Alberta workers deserve at least the same level of protection,” says McGowan.
Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour @ 780-218-9888 (cell)