Full safety records to remain clouded in secrecy
EDMONTON, Aug. 31 /CNW/ - While the government has taken nearly a decade
to finalize its website with workplace injury and fatality records,
workers will have to wait even longer to get the full safety records
they were promised.
"Workers are entitled to know the full safety records of employers,
including their history of violations of the Occupational Health and
Safety Code," says Nancy Furlong, Secretary Treasurer of the Alberta
Federation of Labour (AFL), which represents 140,000 Albertans.
In 2002, the province promised to reveal Alberta's best and worst
employers. What the watered-down website will provide is a long way from
fulfilling that promise.
Lost-time claim statistics, by themselves, mean nothing, says Furlong.
To encourage bad employers to improve their ways the province should
post compliance orders, court orders, and other safety documentation.
Using the website to reveal if employers hold a Certificate of
Recognition (COR) sounds good, but unless the problems with the program
identified by the Auditor General are fully addressed, it is meaningless.
The Auditor General reported that half of the employers who had failed
to comply with occupational health and safety orders continued to hold
valid CORs, which helps them win contracts and qualifies them for
reduced workers' compensation rates.
As well as lacking the courage to reveal the names of employers who
violate the safety code, the government has taken no action to improve
its dismal record of prosecuting those who break the law. Alberta
currently prosecutes at much lower rates than other provinces, even in
cases involving workplace fatalities. Since 2006, the province has
prosecuted in less than three per cent of workplace fatalities.
"Employers must be made to pay the price for putting the workers' lives
at risk, but this is still not being done," says Furlong. A plan for
more aggressive prosecutions should be a core part of the minister's
The AFL also believes that making Joint Worksite Health and Safety
Committees (JWHSCs) a mandatory structure in the Occupational Health and
Safety (OH&S) Act is vital to improving safety at worksites.
These committees provide an avenue for concerns, complaints and issues
to be addressed. They help employers and workers talk about safety
issues and find common ground. These roles are key to establishing a
positive and effective health and safety environment in a workplace.
"The government still has an opportunity to take real action to save the
lives of working Albertans and to prevent workplace injuries. It should
do so," says Furlong.
SOURCE Alberta Federation of Labour
For further information: For further information:
Nancy Furlong, Secretary Treasurer, Alberta Federation of Labour @ 780-720-8945 (cell)