A recent series of workplace safety blitzes by occupational health and safety inspectors has confirmed there are serious safety problems in Alberta workplaces – but this approach is doing little to help.
"These inspection blitzes have provided undeniable proof of the dangers faced by workers," says Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL), which represents 140,000 workers.
"However, these one-off inspection blitzes do not solve the problems of workplace safety – they simply show that the problems exist," says McGowan.
"To make our workplaces safer – to save lives and prevent injuries – blitzes must be backed up with more concrete action, including ongoing random inspections, hiring even more inspectors than the minister has announced, giving them increased powers to issue on-site tickets for violations, increased mandatory training for such things as forklift operations and mandatory joint worker-employer safety committees."
Yesterday, the minister revealed that a forklift inspections blitz in February and March resulted in 214 orders being issued by inspectors against employers for violations. Of the 87 employers visited, 65 were found to have failed to maintain or inspect their forklifts or did not properly train workers.
Today, he announced there would be a similar blitz focused on young workers. In February, there was a blitz on commercial construction sites.
"The minister is trying to convince Albertans that he's being serious about safety, but one-off blitzes simply scratch the surface. They don't save lives," says McGowan.
"The minister agrees with us that saving lives and preventing injures will also save money for employers. Why won't he agree to take real action? Time and time again we have offered simple and obvious solutions to the problem," says McGowan.
"It's hard not to come to the conclusion that Employment and Immigration Minister Thomas Lukaszuk is simply playing politics and trying to create the impression that he is doing something. In reality, all these blitzes do is tell us how serious the safety problems are."-30-
For more information call AFL President Gil McGowan @ (780) 218-9888