Website now ranks Alberta employers on workplace safety

Labour leaders are giving rare praise to the Alberta government for a revamped website that allows people to find out which employers have the highest number of workplace deaths and injuries

The government has put the information online since 2010 but critics said that the website was hard to search. The new version launched at the end of April changes that.

"Workers deserve to know which employers are taking health and safety seriously and which are not," said Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan, who calls the site a good first step.

Alberta Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour Minister Kyle Fawcett says searching under the old format was time-consuming.

"People would have been very unlikely to put in that time and effort," he said. "Now it's real easy and we think it's in a much more usable format."

However, Fawcett cautioned against taking the list at face value.

"It doesn't necessarily mean that it's an employer with a poor safety record. It is a real assessment of what injury rates, disabling rates occurred that year."

In terms of significant on-the-job injuries, Weisse Johnson was one of top 10 offenders in 2012 – something the company's co-owner feels is misleading.

"Almost all of our injuries are related to cuts and the odd twisted ankle carrying product in and out of houses," said Dennis Johnson.

However, he said the company has never had a serious injury.

"It's a little disheartening because people might get in their minds that we're a bad company to work for and that we don't work for their safety," he said. "Safety is one of our core values here at Weiss Johnson.

While McGowan is pleased the information is out there, he hopes the government uses it  to inspect and investigate employers with the highest rates of death and injury.

"The real test is whether or not the government will use this information to actually force employers to clean up their acts when it comes to workplace health and safety."

The site covers the period from 2008 to 2012, the most recent information available. Fawcett says the government is looking at updating the site.

CBC, 2014 June 11

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