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Alberta Upcoming Legislation Changes

December 1st, 2021 changes to the 2020 Occupational Health and Safety Act will come into force.

These changes are the result of Bill 47 - Ensuring Safety and Cutting Red Tape Act which was introduced to provide employers with increased flexibility in how to meet their duties and responsibilities for keeping their workplaces as safe as possible.

Dealerships will be most impacted by the following changes:

Employee Counts

The criteria for determining the number of employees at a workplace has been simplified to "persons who are regularly employed." This can include full-time and part-time paid employees and is used for determining the need for a written health and safety program as well as if a Health and Safety Committee (HSC) is required.

Health and Safety Program Elements

The former Act included mandatory elements within a health and safety program for workplaces with 20 or more workers. However, all programs must meet the definition in the Act: "a system to promote continuous improvement in occupational health and safety."

Health and Safety Committees (HSC)

The threshold of establishing and having an HSC or representative has not changed, any employer with 20 or more employees requires a committee, less than 20 but more than four requires a representative. However, the calculation of employees is simplified in the same manner as the requirement for health and safety programs.

The number of members is no longer prescribed, there can be any number of committee members, however, there cannot be more employer members than worker members.

The employer can establish committees per work site if they choose to and OHS Statutory Directors can deem an employer to require the establishment of individual committees per work site at their discretion.

Disciplinary Action

Workers are still protected from disciplinary action for exercising their rights and duties under the Act, however, the term is changed to disciplinary from discriminatory to differentiate OHS complaints from human rights-related complaints.

Serious Incident Reporting Requirements

The requirement to report serious incidents in the workplace is now revised to include serious illness resulting from the workplace. In addition, if the worker is not yet hospitalized but is likely to be so, the incident must be reported to OHS without delay.

Refusing Dangerous Work

The right to refuse dangerous work is unchanged in itself however a new term "undue hazard" has been added to clarify that a work refusal is appropriate when there is a serious and immediate health and safety threat.

Additionally the statement that "workers must ensure their work refusal does not endanger anyone else" has been added to the outlined process for refusals in the legislation.

Remember these will only be in effect as of December 1, 2021, and employers are expected to abide by current legislation until then. This article does not substitute any legal or regulatory direction and in the case of discrepancy, the official legislation is the document that must be complied with.

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