Massive Change Proposed For WCB and Alberta Workplace Safety Rules
The Alberta NDP Government introduced a new Bill on November 27, 2017.
The Alberta Government takes aim to improve workplace practices and standards for Alberta workers. Called Bill 30, the intent is to pass into law regulations to better protect working Albertans. If Bill 30 is passed, the new safety laws would come into effect on June 1, 2018 and the new WCB laws would come into effect on January 1, 2018; some of the more complex changes would be rolled out later, such as the creation of the fair practices office to help people navigate the WCB system by Dec. 1, 2018.
Bill 30 Explained
At its heart, Bill 30 wants the onus for safety to be squarely on the shoulders of the employer instead of the worker. Currently, any worker refusing to work in an unsafe environment may encounter repercussions to their actions — loss of pay, termination, lack of compensation if injured — while enduring situations where the employer could simply put another worker on the task. The change put forth by Bill 30 proposes that the WCB can act more compassionately in regards to worker safety where a worker has a ‘right’ to refuse work in an unsafe environment, and where the employer has a duty to make the task safe.
If passed, Alberta employers will have to come to terms with how to deal with the new safety laws surrounding Bill 30. There will be additional cost concerns to create and manage occupational health and safety committees or Representatives, and the future handling of worker WCB claims.
Bill 30 – General Outline of Changes
- An increase in benefits and compensation to injured workers and their families.
- Requiring OHS laws be reviewed every five years to ensure they remain relevant to modern and changing workplaces.
- Would require employers to report “near miss” incidents to OHS. A “near miss” incident is one that had the potential to cause serious injury to a person but did not. A serious injury would be reported when a worker is admitted to hospital. Currently, the threshold for reporting a serious injury is a two-day hospitalization.
- Definitions for workplace violence and harassment would be expanded to include threats and coercion.
- Protecting workers from loss-of-wages or benefits on work sites subjected to stop work or stop use orders or while safety improvements are being made. Employees would still be paid while their refusal to work is investigated.
- Mandating joint work site health and safety committees for workplaces with 20 or more employees. Requiring employers with between five and 19 workers to have a health and safety representative in the workplace.
Bill 30 can be viewed via this link on the Government of Alberta’s website.