Evaluating Occupational Health and Safety Systems
Virtually all occupational injuries, diseases and fatalities are preventable. The Occupational Health and Safety Act, Regulation and Code exist to help employers in Alberta minimize occupational hazards at work. The Department of Labour is responsible for implementing occupational health and safety policies.
The Act requires employers to reasonably ensure the health and safety of workers and make workers aware of their responsibilities and duties. The department works with employers to deliver various occupational health and safety (OHS) programs to promote, monitor and enforce laws. The department is also responsible for setting goals and objectives for its programs, analyzing them to ensure they achieve the desired results, and reporting those results to the minister.
The department spent about $42 million on OHS programs in fiscal 2016 and plans to spend $47 million in fiscal 2017. If the department does not regularly evaluate, analyze and report on its OHS programs, the Minister of Labour cannot provide effective oversight or assure Albertans that OHS programs are achieving desired results and providing value.
Why this is important to Albertans
The impact of workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities reaches well beyond workers and their families and leads to broader negative economic and social consequences, which include:
- workers losing their level of income and health, and sometimes their lives
- employers facing costs such as legal expenses, additional hiring and training costs, loss of productivity and Workers’ Compensation Board premium increases
- the healthcare system ultimately funding and treating unreported injuries and diseases
- pressures on government resources to inspect, investigate and prosecute