As businesses and employees work to get Fort McMurray back on its feet, safety must be the first priority to avoid incidents and injuries.
All Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) legislation continues to apply during the Fort McMurray rebuilding efforts. Employers are required to take all necessary steps to protect the health and safety of their workers. This includes addressing new hazards such as reduced air quality, ash and burned debris.
“I want to remind everyone that OHS rules are in place to keep workers safe and must be followed at all times. A focus on working safely can prevent incidents from happening and will help ensure the rebuilding process goes smoothly.”
Some buildings may contain asbestos
If a building was built before 2000, it is presumed asbestos may be present unless a hazardous materials survey confirms otherwise.
To demolish a building without first removing the asbestos, employers must apply for an acceptance under the OHS Code and follow specific work procedures.
Only workers who have successfully completed an asbestos-worker training course through a Government of Alberta-accredited agency may work in areas where asbestos is present.
Tips for employers
- Know your responsibilities under the law before work starts.
- Make sure any workers with health conditions have their health assessed by their doctor before arriving in Fort McMurray. A sample health assessment questionnaire is available on the Alberta Labour website: work.alberta.ca/OHSwildfires.
- Only ask workers to do jobs for which they are trained and provide training to workers who need it.
- Ensure you have appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) available for all your workers. Conditions change quickly and equipment such as respirators may be needed at a moment’s notice.
- You are required by law to address any health and safety concerns your workers raise with you. You may not dismiss or discipline a worker for raising a safety concern.
Tips for workers
- If you have questions about how to do a job safely, ask before you start.
- Refuse work that poses an “imminent danger,” meaning it is a danger for which you haven’t been trained or equipped.
- Your employer may not dismiss or discipline you for refusing work that poses an imminent danger.
- If you’re not sure if a situation poses an imminent danger, call the OHS Contact Centre for advice at 1-866-415-8690.
- If you’re concerned about a situation that is unsafe but isn’t an imminent danger, report it to your employer before you start work.
More comprehensive information on how to work safely during the Fort McMurray rebuilding process is available on the Alberta Labour website’s Occupational Health and Safety page:work.alberta.ca/OHSwildfires.