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Bill 30 Overhauls Alberta's Occupational Health and Safety Act

On November 27, 2017 the Alberta Government introduced Bill 30 – An Act to Protect the Health and Well-Being of Working Albertans. Bill 30 proposes updates to Alberta’s Workers Compensation Act while offering a complete replacement of the current Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Among the changes to the Occupational Health and Safety statute are a substantively revised set of legislative purposes that includes “the promotion and maintenance of the highest degree of physical, psychological and social well-being of workers” and ensuring workers’ rights to refuse dangerous work, participate in health and safety activities and work without reprisal for exercising a right or duty under the OHS Act, Regulations or Code.1

The proposed Act also introduces a host of new or expanded definitions, including:

  • “Consult or any similar term or word” to mean the sharing or seeking of information or advice from “affected persons” (which is not defined), offering them reasonable opportunity to express their views and taking such views, information and advice into account while imposing on employers and prime contractors, among others, a duty to consult, including with joint health and safety committees;2
  • “Discriminatory action” that replaces and significantly expands the current definition of “disciplinary action”;3
  • “Harassment”, defined very broadly to include single or repeated incidents of “objectionable or unwelcome conduct, comment, bullying or action” including for generally recognized grounds of discrimination and to exclude “any reasonable conduct of an employer or supervisor in respect of the management of workers or a work site”;4
  • “Health and safety”, which includes “physical, psychological and social well-being”;5 and
  • “Employer” being expanded to include the engagement or employment of workers from a “temporary staffing agency”, which is also defined and the subject to new, express obligations.6

If Bill 30 is passed, businesses with 20 or more employees for work expected to last 90 or more days will be required to establish and maintain the joint committee and those with 5 to 19 employees with work of 90 or more days will need to designate a health and safety representative.7 Other changes include explicit obligations to report “near miss” incidents where injury did not occur but could have resulted8 and an obligation on employers to continue paying workers while a stop work order is in place at their work site.9

We look forward to providing further updates in the near future on what this all means and how the proposed changes could impact you. In the meantime we are happy to “Field” your questions!

1 Section 2
2  Sections 1(e), 3(1)(e), 10(5)(d) and 37(1)
3 Section 1(m)
4 Sections 1(q)
5 Section 1(v)
6 Sections 1(n), 1(vv) and 12
7 Sections 16 and 17
8 Section40(4)
9 Section 60(3)