New safety rules for Alberta workplaces

Eleven new regulations, including sections on workplace violence and robots
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|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 01/05/2004

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lberta has put new regulations into force in an effort to increase health and safety awareness in workplaces across the province.

The changes are designed to ensure workplace safety rules keep pace with changes on Alberta worksites and are easier for employers and workers to use, said Clint Dunford, Alberta’s Human Resources and Employment Minister.

“Putting all of the province’s technical safety requirements into the new Occupational Health and Safety Code is part of the government’s commitment under the Work Safe Alberta initiative to reduce workplace injuries by 40 per cent,” said Dunford. “Employers and workers will now be able to look in one place for safety standards instead of cross-referencing 11 separate regulations.”

The new Occupational Health and Safety Code replaces the technical safety requirements of the following 11 regulations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act:

•general safety regulation;

•first-aid regulation;

•chemical hazards regulation;

•mines safety regulation;

•noise regulation;

•ventilation regulation;

•joint work site health and safety committee regulations (four regulations); and

•explosive safety regulations.

What is new?

The following is a list of the major changes from previous regulations:

Protection from workplace violence

•mandates hazard assessment;

•mandates worker training; and

•mandates response plan for workplace violence.

Mandatory written hazard assessments by employers

•recognizes that employers have the most detailed knowledge of their own worksites;

•employers must proactively identify hazards; and

•a new online training tool for employers will be available in February 2004

Ordering employers to prepare health and safety plans

•deals with employers who have no OHS plan and have high injury rates; and

•used at the discretion of the Director of Compliance for Occupational Health and Safety and Employment Standards.

New requirements for residential roofing fall protection

•allows use of slide guards under some conditions.

Control plans for lead exposure

•employers must produce an exposure control plan for employees where they may be adversely affected by exposure to lead.

Specific safety standards for safe lifting

•employers must provide appropriate safety equipment as identified in hazard assessments; and

•simple ergonomic measures could dramatically reduce the number of injured workers.

Protective measures for biohazards

•biohazards such as HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C are now commonplace and require protective equipment and procedures for some workers; and

•requires proper disposal procedures for sharps (needles) and their use.

Protective measures for emergency response workers

•mandates plans and worker training for evacuation;

•stipulates protective requirements; and

•specifies training standards.

ATVs and snowmobiles at work

•incorporates safety requirements for the operation of these machines, similar to the requirements for trucks and forklifts; and

•prohibits the use of three wheel ATVs at work.

Provisions for use of robots

•robots are now considered to be tools, similar to saws, welding torches etc., with requirement to be operated, serviced and maintained within manufacturer's specifications and according to engineer's directions; and

•adopts Canadian Safety Association standards for safe use of robots.

Requirements for underwater diving as part of work

•ensures only trained people may perform this work.

Protective measures for tree care operations

•recognizes special fall protection equipment required for tree care operation

Is training available?

A detailed explanation guide on the code will be available on www.worksafely.org and from the Queen's Printer by the end of November 2003. Web based training tools will be available in February 2004 to assist employers and workers to comply with the code.

How will the code be updated?

Keeping Alberta's occupational health and safety requirements current will fall under the mandate of the nine-member Occupational Health and Safety Council. Comprised of employer, worker and public representatives, the council provides advice to the Minister of Alberta Human Resources and Employment on matters relating to the health and safety of Alberta workplaces.

For more information on Occupational Health and Safety in Alberta call (866) 415-8690 or visit online at www.worksafely.org.

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