Occupational health and safety officers will be targeting Alberta residential construction sites in a month-long inspection blitz to make sure workers and employers are following workplace safety rules.
"There is a very good likelihood that one of our officers will be attending your job site, and be prepared and be aware of the fact that we are watching out and that we want you to comply with the regulations of occupational health and safety," Employment and Immigration Minister Thomas Lukaszuk said Monday.
Lukaszuk said the results of the month-long inspection blitz will be released to the public. Officers have also been told to file their orders with developers and site owners, as well as contractors and subcontractors.
"There is no excuse of not knowing what your subcontractors are doing on your job," Lukaszuk said. "At the end of the day, the responsibility flows all the way to the top."
Officials in Lukaszuk's ministry have started drafting new legislation which will allow officers to ticket workers and fine employers on the spot for safety violations. Currently, officers secure job sites and issue orders or stop work orders when infractions are found.
The Alberta Federation of Labour called the blitz a welcome step but said more needs to be done. Warning employers about the inspection blitz makes it easy for them to temporarily clean-up their act, said AFL President Gil McGowan
"The last thing he should be doing is what he did today ... because that's basically telling the employers to clean up for now and then you can go back to business as usual," McGowan said.
Last month, a CBC News investigation found a number of construction workers working without safety harnesses on the roofs of houses.
Labour groups and independent safety consultants believe workers, and their employers, ignore safety laws because they have no fear of being caught.
According to the province, almost 1700 inspections of residential worksites led officers to issue more than 1,000 safety orders in 2010. A lack of proper fall protection was the primary infraction cited by inspectors.
CBC News, Mon Sept 12 2011