The Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Act covers all workers except the following industries:
- Marine Shipping
- Ferry and Port Services
- Air transportation, including Airports, Aerodromes and Airlines
- Road Transportation that involves crossing Provincial or International Borders
- Tunnels and Bridges (crossing provincial borders)
- Telephone, Telegraph, and Cable Systems
- Radio and Television Broadcasting
- Grain Elevators
- Feed and Seed Mills
- Uranium Mining and Processing
- Businesses dealing with the protection of Fisheries as a Natural Resource
- Many First Nation activities
- Most Federal Crown Corporations
Anyone working in the industries listed above is covered by the Canadian Occupational Health and Safety Regulations. Please see the Canadian Occupational Health and Safety Regulations section if you work in the industries listed above.
The Right to Refuse Unsafe Work
Unsafe work is work that involves an “imminent danger,” which can be:
- A danger that is not normal for that type of work
- A danger under which a worker in that type of work would not normally do the work.
Workers in Alberta can refuse work, which they believe puts them in imminent danger, or puts another worker at the workplace in imminent danger. This is explained in the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Domestic workers, such as nannies and housekeepers can’t refuse unsafe work, because the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Act does not cover these workers.
Workers who refuse unsafe work cannot be fired or disciplined as a result, but employers often do punish workers who report unsafe work. Workers who report unsafe conditions are still entitled to receive pay, but they may be assigned to do other work while the problem is being corrected.
The Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Act states that once the employer has been notified of unsafe work, they are obligated to ensure no other worker is assigned to perform the work unless:
- The worker to be assigned is not exposed to imminent danger
- The imminent danger has been eliminated.
The Procedure to Refuse Unsafe Work
- Reporting and remaining on site for the supervisor’s investigation
The worker should report immediately to both the supervisor and the worker health and safety representative (if there is one) the refusal to work and the related safety concern. You should remain on site for the shift, while taking every measure to report the refusal. This may minimize complications later in the process.
After being told about the refusal, the supervisor investigates the work, fixes it, and gives a report to the worker of what was found, and the repairs that were made.
- Health and safety officer’s investigation
After receiving the supervisor’s report, a worker who believes the work is still unsafe can file a complaint with the Occupational Health and Safety Contact Centre at 1-866-415-8690. Workers who are deaf or have a hearing impairment can call 780-427-9999 in Edmonton, or 1-800-232-7215 from elsewhere in the province. All calls to the Occupational Health and Safety Contact Centre are confidential.
The worker health and safety representative should be told about the disagreement, as well if there is one in your workplace.
An Occupational Health and Safety Officer from Workplace Health and Safety investigates the work, makes a decision, and gives the decision in writing to the worker and the supervisor. It is expected that the supervisor have the work fixed if the officer’s decision requires it, and the worker returns to work if the officer decides that the work is not unsafe.
A worker disagreeing with the officer’s decision can request the Occupational Health and Safety Council to conduct a review.
The Right to Know
Workers have the right to know about hazards and possible hazards in the workplace. Hazards can be anything from toxic chemicals in cleaning, to harassment and violent crime. Knowing about hazards and training to avoid hazards let workers work more safely.
Workers get to know about workplace hazards when provincial health and safety law states that employers have to tell workers about a specific hazard. Similarly, employers instruct workers in the proper way of doing work when provincial health and safety law states that the employer has to give such instruction.
Employers have to tell workers about certain hazardous materials they may need to work with. These products are classified, or defined, under the Workplace Hazardous Material Information System (WHMIS).
Compressed gas, flammable and combustible materials, oxidizing materials, poisonous and infectious materials, corrosive materials and dangerously reactive materials each come with a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), which employers are to make available to workers. These hazardous materials, classified under WHMIS, are stored in containers with a WHMIS warning label.
Employers have to give workers training in:
- Reading WHMIS labels so to be able to identify hazardous materials in the workplace and understand the hazardous effects of these materials;
- Getting a hold of the MSDS and reading the data sheet;
- Safely using hazardous materials in the workplace;
- Storing and disposing of hazardous materials;
- Knowing what to do if there’s a spill, release, fire or poisoning involving a hazardous material; and
- Using protective equipment in emergencies.The information Occupational Health and Safety in Alberta has been gathered from the Alberta Federation of Labour website.
Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Act: http://work.alberta.ca/occupational-health-safety/307.htmlIf you have an Occupational Health and Safety complaint or you would like information, you can make a confidential call 1‑866‑415‑8690 (toll free) or see the Resources section of the application.
If you need help filing a complaint, please click on the link.
Disclaimer information: http://www.thecdlc.ca/education/help-for-workers/disclaimer/