Alberta remains one of the most dangerous places in Canada to work, especially for young workers: AFL
Edmonton – The Alberta Federation of Labour is responding to Saturday’s death of a 15-year-old worker.
Alberta’s child, youth, and adolescent labour laws are among the worst in Canada, says the AFL. The province had a chance to toughen up those standards in a recent Employment Standards review, but nothing came of it.
“Alberta’s child labour laws are among the most lax in Canada,” says Siobhan Vipond, AFL Secretary Treasurer. “The AFL has repeatedly made recommendations to improve working conditions and safety standards, specifically for young workers. This weekend’s tragic news is yet another reminder that much more needs to be done to keep Albertans safe at work.”
“Just a few months ago, Employment Minister Thomas Lukaszuk launched a review of Alberta’s workplace laws. But the first item up for review was a question about expanding child labour,” says Vipond. “Instead of rushing more young workers onto potentially unsafe work sites, we need to keep young workers safe. Today, Alberta is one of the most unsafe places for young people to work.”
The AFL’s submission on April 11, 2014 to the Employment Standards contained several pages of recommendations on young workers.
"Alberta needs targeted inspections of workplaces that employ 15-17 year olds, especially in construction and other comparatively dangerous occupations,” says Vipond. “The AFL made urgent recommendations earlier this year, and this past weekend we are sadly reminded why these changes are so desperately needed in Alberta.”
A recent survey showed 49.7% of 797 adolescents surveyed had experienced at least one workplace injury in the previous year.
For 15-17 year olds, the research has shown young, minor workers are particularly vulnerable to abuses in the workplace, such as illegal deductions, unsafe work, handling of hazardous materials, and sexual harassment.
For that reason, the AFL recommended a program of targeted inspections and a special, mandated health and safety training programme for employers who hire 15-17 year old Albertans. Alberta must also review whether some industrial activities or occupations are prohibited for adolescents, particularly in forklift operations and construction work.
Brad Lafortune, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.901.1177 (cell)
or via e-mail [email protected]