About this Audit

Albertans go to work each day with the expectation that they will come home to their community and loved ones free of injury, illness, or harm. Unfortunately, work-related illnesses, injuries, and deaths still occur. A recent report by the University of Alberta Parkland Institute estimates that there were over 170,000 workplace injuries in Alberta in 2016, including 144 fatalities accepted as compensable by the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB).

The Occupational Health and Safety Act, Regulation, and Code exist to help employers in Alberta minimize occupational hazards. The Department of Labour is responsible for implementing and enforcing occupational health and safety (OHS) legislation, regulation, codes, and policies. The department works with employers to deliver various OHS programs to promote, monitor, and enforce laws. The department is also responsible for setting OHS programs’ goals and objectives, analysing them to ensure that they are achieving the desired results, and reporting those results to the minister, the legislature, and all Albertans.

If the department does not regularly evaluate and report on its OHS programs, the department cannot provide effective oversight or assure Albertans that OHS programs are achieving expected results, providing value, and being cost-effective.

In April 2010, we assessed whether the department had adequate systems to promote, monitor, enforce, and report on its OHS goals and objectives, and we made five recommendations. We assessed recommendations related to inspection systems, certificates of recognition, and permit and certificate programs as implemented during follow-up audits reported in July 20123 and July 2016.4 In 2016, we found the department had still not implemented the following recommendations:

  • plan and report on whether key OHS programs and initiatives achieve desired results
  • clarify and enforce procedures on worksite compliance with OHS legislation
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