What happens when someone does not comply with Alberta's OHS laws?

AuthorSteingard, Jessica

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Jail? Fines? Nothing? What are the real consequences of not following occupational health and safety (OHS) laws in Alberta?

Alberta's Occupational Health and Safety Act is the primary legislation governing OHS in Alberta. It also includes several regulations, each with its own role in regulating OHS:

* Occupational Health and Safety Regulation

* Farming and Ranching Exemption Regulation

* Occupational Health and Safety Code

* Administrative Penalty Regulation

In this article, we are going to focus on what happens when someone does not comply with any of these laws in Alberta. Who takes the heat, so to speak? What are the consequences?

Who is responsible for an unsafe work site?

Any work site party can be held responsible for an unsafe work site. As a reminder, work site parties named in the Act are:

  1. Employers

  2. Supervisors

  3. Workers

  4. Suppliers

  5. Service providers

  6. Owners

  7. Contracting employers

  8. Prime contractors

  9. Temporary staffing agencies

Alberta OHS office can act against any person, which can be an individual or a company.

How does Alberta OHS enforce the Act?

Directors and officers with Alberta's OHS office have wide powers to enforce the Act. These powers include inspections, investigations, inquiries, carrying out tests, issuing stop work or stop use orders, issuing administrative penalties, or charging a person with an offence. Let's look at a few of these enforcement tools.

What are stop work and stop use orders?

An officer can issue a stop work order if they believe a worker's health and safety are in danger. They can order that work be stopped or that a worker or other person leave the work site immediately. They can also issue a written order listing steps that other work site parties must take to protect people from or remove the danger.

If the danger exists across a company's different work sites, the officer can order the company to stop all activities and everyone to leave the work sites. The company cannot resume work until the order is cancelled, which happens after they take steps to protect people from and remove the danger.

A stop use order is similar to a stop work order except it applies to the use of personal protective equipment, other equipment, harmful substances or explosives. An officer can order someone to stop using it and a supplier to stop supplying it.

If someone is not following a stop work or stop use order, the Director can apply to the Court of King's Bench to turn the...

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