Alberta has an Occupational Health and Safety Act. Occupational health and safety provides minimum standards through provincial and federal laws to define hazards in the workplace and impose restrictions on employers and employees to eliminate or reduce the hazards to the health and safety of employees and all persons on the work site. However, it should be noted that the Occupational Health and Safety Act does not apply to workers such as domestic workers (including housekeepers or nannies), federal government employees, farmers, and workers in federally regulated industries such as banking, interprovincial transportation, and telecommunication. Hazards that may impact a person’s reproductive system as a result of chemical exposure are an important occupational health and safety issue because they can cause serious health problems for the workers, their families and their unborn children.
How Does It Work?
Every employer has a duty to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of every worker. Workers also have a duty to take all reasonable care to protect not only their own health but that of other workers, and to cooperate with the employer in protecting health and safety.
The law provides that occupational health and safety officers may enter a work site at any reasonable hour for matters relating to occupational health and safety, such as inspecting the work site, checking records, seizing materials or products or equipment that may be unsafe, making tests, taking photographs, interviewing, and taking statements from persons on the work site. The officer has the authority to order work stoppage and/or improvements until unsafe work conditions are corrected. The officer generally makes his request in writing to the employer and sets time limits for the improvement. Both the employer and the employee have a legal duty to report to the Director of Occupational Health and Safety any serious injury or accidents that have a potential to cause serious injury. The employer has a duty to investigate the situation, make a formal report, and present it to the Director. The Director can require workers to have regular medical examinations if they are employed in hazardous occupations or on hazardous work sites.
Workers must not carry out any work or operate any tool or equipment on any work site if the worker believes that there is a danger present that is not normal for that particular occupation and there are conditions under which a person in that occupation would not normally carry out work. A worker must notify the employer as soon as possible of the refusal to work and the reason for the refusal. The employer must investigate the worker’s report and take whatever action is necessary to eliminate the danger. A written report must be made and the worker who complained must be given a copy of the report.
Can I Be Fired for Complaining About a Safety Hazard?
An employer cannot dismiss or discriminate against a worker who complies with the Act. If the worker believes that the employer has discriminated against her or dismissed her because of the complaint, she may file a complaint with an officer of the Occupational Health and Safety Council. An investigation will follow.
It is an offence not to comply with the Act or to make false statements to someone engaged in inspection and investigation under the Act. Anyone found guilty of such an offence may be fined and/or imprisoned. The penalty may increase with each conviction for an offence under the Act.