OHS: A Safety Coordinator's Perspective.

Date01 September 2022

SEPTEMBER 28, 2022 BY CENTRE FOR PUBLIC LEGAL EDUCATION ALBERTA

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Eight things workers should (and hopefully already) know about occupational health and safety laws in Alberta.

It's one thing to read the laws in Alberta about occupational health and safety (OHS). But how does it actually work day-to-day? Say you work in construction or IT or a school. The reality is that OHS laws are all around us. But does everyone know what the laws say?

We recently sat down with a safety coordinator in the Edmonton area, who shall remain nameless. They gave us their take on eight things workers should know (but might not!) about OHS laws in Alberta.

  1. There are OHS laws.

    This sounds silly but it's true. Some workers do not know that there are multiple laws governing OHS practices in Alberta, and across Canada.

    Alberta's Occupational Health and Safety Act applies to most workers in Alberta. It also includes the OHS Regulation and OHS Code. We say it applies to 'most' workers because there are exceptions. The OHS Act applies to people meeting the definition of 'worker' (see below). But it does not apply to workers governed by federal safety laws. Workers in federally regulated industries are covered by Part II of the Canada Labour Code. Learn more about federally regulated workers at CPLEA's Law FAQs website.

    This article discusses Alberta's OHS legislation.

  2. Workers have the right to know, participate and refuse unsafe work.

    These three rights are enshrined in section 2 of Alberta's OHS Act. The right to know means the "right to be informed of work site hazards and the means to eliminate or control those hazards". This includes being informed if another worker has exercised their right to refuse unsafe work for the same work you are being asked to do.

    The right to participate means the "right to meaningful participation in health and safety activities pertaining to their work and work site, including the ability to express health and safety concerns." This includes being part of joint health and safety committees or acting as the health and safety representative.

    The right to refuse unsafe or dangerous work is mentioned in section 2 and described further in section 17 of the OHS Act. A worker may refuse to do work if they reasonably believe there is an undue hazard at the work site or that the work may jeopardize their health and safety or that of another worker or person. The employer can assign the worker to other work while they...

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