Labour members of the Task Force that recommended new provisions for working alone regulations released a "minority report" today stating the provisions "fall short" in protecting workers. The "Minority Report" comes in response to the official implementation of new working alone regulations.
"The Alberta government missed an opportunity today," says Audrey Cormack, AFL President. "The new regulations fall far short of what is needed to really protect workers who have to work alone."
The Minority Report comes from a group of 6 Labour representatives on the General Safety Regulation Task Force, which is the body charged with recommending new regulations for working alone. The Task Force recommendations included a mandatory assessment of the hazards and some form of effective communication system.
"The labour representatives attempted to include stronger provisions, such as permitting a worker to refuse working alone that may put their safety at substantial risk, but were shot down by the employer side of the Task Force," says Jason Foster, who represented the AFL on the Task Force.
"Banning working alone was never in the Minister's plan," says Foster. Foster indicates the Minister communicated to a number of parties that a ban was never in the works. This message affected the Task Force's deliberations.
The labour representatives decided to support the six sections as a first step measure. "It was the best compromise possible given the strong opposition from employers and the government," says Foster. "We want the public to know that the provisions do not go far enough."
The Minority Report calls for additional steps to be taken, including:
- Making the elimination of working alone (scheduling more than one worker) the first consideration before other hazard controls
- The Minister be given the discretion to designate certain jobs "high hazard" and ban working alone in those jobs
- Permitting workers to refuse to work alone if it places their safety at "substantial risk"
- Define "effective communication system" as having both an emergency call for the employee and a regular check-in by someone who can get help
"Preventing working alone should be the first level of defence," says Cormack. "With this government, it barely makes the radar screen."
The labour representatives will continue to sit on the Task Force and try to make improvements to the health and safety regulations where they can.
"What the results of the working alone process show is that the public needs to put greater pressure on the government to make them give higher priority to worker health and safety."
For more information contact:
Audrey M. Cormack, President @ 780 499-6530 (cell) 428-9367 (home)
Jason Foster, AFL @ 780-1137 (wk)
Note: Copies of the Minority Report are available from the AFL at 483-3021.