Edmonton - The Alberta Federation of Labour today releases a 10-point plan for immediate action (click here for full text of plan) to improve workplace safety in the province.
"The government has taken some steps in the right direction to improve health and safety at work, but Alberta can - and must - do better," says Gil McGowan, president of the AFL, which represents 140,000 workers. "As the economy picks up, especially in the oil patch and construction sectors, the government needs to take immediate action to improve health and safety. If simple changes aren't made today, Alberta will return to the highest number of workplace fatalities in Canada. Only last month, three workers died in workplace accidents in three days. These are the kinds of tragedies that Alberta must prevent," he says.
"The recession gave us a short reprieve. Now is our chance to lead the country, instead of consistently being the most dangerous place in Canada to be a worker," continues McGowan.
Representatives of the Ironworkers and Electrical Workers' construction unions joined McGowan for the release of the 10-point plan. The AFL also presented 2,500 signed postcards to the office of Employment Minister Thomas Lukaszuk, calling for health and safety improvements.
"Most of these ideas are not radical - they are policies that work very well in most other provinces," he says. "The minister begins a three-day Work Safe Alberta Minister's Forum on Monday. This is the perfect opportunity to adopt these simple but effective policies."
The AFL 10-point plan for occupational health and safety includes:
- More occupational health and safety (OH&S) inspectors performing more inspections.
- Empowering inspectors to issue on-site administrative fines and stop-work/stop-use orders, addressing health and safety issues before they become an injury or fatality.
- More resources for Crown Prosecutors to pursue charges.
- Reform at the WCB: ending bonuses for employees who deny claims and restoring employer premiums to reasonable levels.
- Including farm workers in health and safety and employment standards legislation
- Working-alone legislation: Alberta is in a minority of provinces without special protections for those working alone, especially at night.
- Protection for workers who blow the whistle on unsafe worksites, equipment, or practices.
- Posting employer safety records online: the government's current practice leaves out 85 per cent of injuries. Reforming this system includes posting stop-work/stop-use orders, actual injuries or deaths on a job site, and inspection reports.
- Giving Certificates of Recognition only to safe workplaces.
- Mandatory joint health and safety committees for workers and employers.
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Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour @ 780-218-9888 (cell)