Health and safety protections are NOT ‘red tape,’ says AFL president
EDMONTON - The Kenney government is considering dropping or weakening many workplace health and safety (OHS) protections because it views them as red tape, the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) has learned.
“It’s shameful that the Kenney government dismisses rules and protections that make Alberta workplaces safer as red tape,” says Gil McGowan, president of the AFL, the province’s largest labour advocacy group. “Any government that views occupational health and safety as red tape has its priorities dangerously out of whack. We elect governments to defend the interests of citizens, not to help employers’ cut corners at the expense of safety.”
The AFL learned that an attack on workplace health and safety protections is coming, perhaps as early as next week, after an Alberta government executive director asked the AFL for feedback on the following proposed changes that will weaken occupational health and safety rules:
- Lowering reporting requirements for potentially serious incidents (“near misses”)
- Shrinking or eliminating Level 1 training for representatives and chairs of joint work site health and safety committees
- Lowering requirements for which work sites are required to have joint work site committees
- Eliminating the “scorecard” for some employers
“Our response is that these proposals will make workplaces less safe. They represent a step backwards, in terms of health and safety, and would once again make Alberta an outlier and laggard among Canadian provinces when it comes to workplace safety,” says McGowan.
“These changes could have deadly results not only for workers, but also for the general public,” adds McGowan, pointing to the proposal to decrease reporting requirements for near misses. Current OHS legislation states that if there is a worksite incident that has the potential of causing serious injury to a person, it must be reported (OHS Act, s.40(5)).
“We’ve told the government that workplace health and safety should not be viewed as red tape – and it shouldn’t be sacrificed so that employers can save a few bucks by cutting corners. We urge the UCP government, for the sake of Alberta workers and their families, to strengthen, not weaken, workplace safety.”
Director of Communications, AFL