Workplace deaths skyrocket in Alberta

New occupational health and safety code comes into force on April 30

New health and safety rules are about to come into force in Alberta at a time when work-related deaths are soaring.

Since the start of the year, provincial workplace safety officials have launched investigations into 12 worksite deaths in Alberta, nearly twice as many as at this point last year.

According to the Alberta Workers’ Compensation Board, there have been 38 fatality claims accepted in 2004, compared to 31 at this point in 2003 and 23 in 2002.

On April 30, employers in the province must comply with Alberta’s new Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) code. The code ensures that workplace safety rules keep pace with changes on Alberta worksites and are easier for employers and workers to use, the province said.

“The vast majority of Alberta employers already run safe workplaces and are in compliance with the new OHS code. We know this from the support shown by employers, labour and safety associations for the new provisions in the code,” said Alberta Human Resources and Employment Minister Clint Dunford. “For our part, government has a responsibility to give a public reminder that the code is going into effect and that we are here to help our partners in industry and labour to comply and to keep workplaces safe.”

The code includes a number of new provisions, including:

•minimizing the danger from violence in the workplace;

•biohazard protection;

•new options for residential roofing fall protection;

•mandatory written hazard assessments.

•control plans for lead exposure;

•specific safety standards for safe lifting;

•protective measures for emergency response workers;

•ATVs and snowmobiles at work;

•provisions for use of robots;

•requirements for underwater diving as part of work; and

•protective measures for tree-care operations.

Contravention of the OHS code or act carries a maximum fine of $500,000 and/or a six-month imprisonment for the first offence.

Copies of the code can be downloaded at

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