Alberta is not prepared for major new workplace rule changes
CALGARY – According to a new survey of Alberta business owners, 84 per cent say they have not received adequate information about the new occupational health and safety (OHS) rules and are not familiar with how it will impact their business. Major OHS changes are slated to come into effect Friday, June 1st, 2018.
“Entrepreneurs are caught off guard and not in a position to enact new mandatory rules. Government bulletins and guidelines were slow to be developed. Some materials are ‘coming any day now’ and others were posted this week, yet Occupational Health and Safety officers will be able to issue tickets on changes that most business owners haven’t even heard of,” said Amber Ruddy Alberta Director for CFIB.
Due to the uncertainty this creates, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is calling for a six month delay on the implementation of these mandatory new rules.
The legislation focuses on prescriptive processes and a series of mandatory workplace safety initiatives, removing flexibility for small business owners. Designated safety representatives, training, and harassment & violence policies and in some cases committees are becoming mandatory. The labour department is still working on the information and materials with some scheduled to be delivered in the coming weeks and months.
When asked, should the province provide free accessible and easy to understandable resources to help business comply, 91 per cent agree. In advance of the new policies, it is essential the province take serious steps to make all resources available.
Ensuring workers are not subject to nor participate in workplace harassment or violence is a given. However, employers may be surprised and ill equipped to learn their obligations now include advising workers of treatment options if suffering from psychological illness, including providing workers with wages during treatment.
“It would be reasonable to delay the implementation of changes to the code until the government has the materials ready and job creators have time to adapt their current practices. The Alberta government needs to put themselves in the shoes of small business owners and attempt to understand the realities of running a small firm,” said Ruddy.
The May 2018 survey findings are based on 837 CFIB member responses to a controlled-access web survey.
CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members across every sector and region.