New workplace health and safety laws in effect December 1, 2021
Alberta’s new Occupational Health and Safety Act, Regulations and Code makes big changes to how most workers in Alberta are protected.
While the new OHS Act retains the 4 basic worker health and safety rights (Right to Know, Participate, Refuse, and Be Free from Reprisal), these basic rights are weakened in favour of leaving health and safety prevention actions up to the employer’s discretion.
We believe that workers need to be meaningfully involved in workplace health and safety, and are therefore concerned with the removal of some of the core duties of Health and Safety Committees and Representatives from the new legislation, including participation in regular worksite inspections.
The new legislation also makes significant changes to the Right to Refuse Dangerous Work. Previously, workers could refuse work if they had a reasonable belief that the task was dangerous to themselves or others. Now, workers can only refuse if they believe they are exposed to an “undue hazard”.
The purpose of OHS legislation is to mandate certain protections that will improve workplace safety and prevent us from being exposed to hazards that can harm us. This new legislation removes many prescriptive requirements from the Act, and in doing so removes much of the already limited influence workers have over our own health and safety.
We are in the process of updating our resources to reflect the new legislation. We will be sharing this new information through our education streams as it becomes available, and as we learn more about how workers and workplaces are affected by the changes.
The new legislation is in effect as of December 1, 2021. Information from the Alberta Government on some of these changes can be found HERE.
A worker-focused overview and analysis of the new changes can be found at https://lawofwork.ca/albertaohschanges/