When you start a job, you and your employer need to discuss the health and safety policies of the workplace. You both play an important role in keeping your workplace safe.
Alberta has laws to protect your health and safety at work. Here are some examples:
- It's against the law for anyone to force you to do work you think is unsafe.
- It's against the law for an employer to run an unsafe business.
- You have a right to work in a safe and healthy work space.
- Your supervisor must tell you about the hazards of your job before you start a new job.
- Your employer, supervisor, or co-worker must keep in touch with you regularly if you work alone.
- You have the right to be involved in health and safety discussions, including participation in health and safety committees.
Staying healthy and safe on the job
By working together, you and your employer can make your workplace healthy and safe. That’s important throughout your working career but it’s particularly important when you’re a younger worker. If you are 15 to 24, you are one-third more likely than someone 25 or older to be injured at work. For this reason, it is especially important for young workers and their employers to pay attention to workplace health and safety.
If a workplace is unsafe, provincial Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) officers can require changes, shut down equipment, or stop work entirely. They can also impose Administrative Penalties and issue tickets to parties who are not in compliance with OHS regulations.
Eliminating and controlling work site hazards
Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety Act [pdf] requires employers to eliminate or control hazards. Employers are required to perform a work site hazard assessment, to identify the current hazards and to eliminate or control them.
On the job, you must make sure you:
- Work safely and co-operate with your employer by following health and safety rules
- Use appropriate safety and personal protective equipment
- Take part in health and safety training
- Report unsafe working conditions to your employer or supervisor
- Help protect the health and safety of your co-workers
- Operate equipment safely
Your employer’s responsibilities
On the job, your employer must:
- Protect you and your co-workers’ health and safety
- Provide competent supervisors, training workers, and prevent violence and harassment
- Work with the joint worksite health and safety committee or health and safety representative
- Assess and control workplace hazards
- Inform you of any hazards on the work site, and controls in place
- Develop safe work practices and make sure they are followed
- Make sure you have proper skills and training to do your job safely. The Occupational Health and Safety Act also allows a worker to work under the direct supervision of a competent worker.
- Keep equipment in safe working order and ensure it can safely perform the function it was designed for
- Label and store hazardous chemicals properly
- Monitor you if you are exposed to certain chemicals (and, in some cases, require health examinations)
- Report workplace deaths and serious injuries to Alberta Occupational Health and Safety
- Ensure you are aware of your health and safety responsibilities
- Control your exposure to harmful substances within allowable limits
If you’re concerned about health and safety issues in your workplace, talk to your supervisor. If your concerns aren’t resolved, speak to who your supervisor reports to. If the situation still doesn’t change or improve, contact the OHS Contact Centre toll-free in Alberta at 1-866-415-8690 or find out how to file a complaint with OHS.
Preventing violence in the workplace
Workplace violence, whether threatened or carried out, is a workplace hazard.
As a worker, you can help prevent workplace violence by:
- Treating your co-workers, clients, and the public with respect and dignity
- Helping your employer develop policies and procedures to prevent violence
- Taking part in education programs
- Reporting workplace violence
Your employer’s role
Worker Orientation Health and Safety Checklist
To prevent violence in the workplace, the Occupational Health and Safety Act requires employers to:
- Identify potential workplace violence in their hazard assessment
- Develop policies and procedures to minimize or eliminate workplace violence as well as how it will be investigated, documented and reported
- Teach workers how to recognize workplace violence and respond appropriately, including where to get help
Employers must ensure that workers who complain about workplace hazards, including violence, are not penalized.
The Alberta Human Rights Commission responds to complaints of workplace harassment related to any of the 15 grounds protected under Alberta’s human rights law.
OHS law says you must work safely and co-operate with your employer by following health and safety rules. Success at work starts with knowing—and following—the laws that will keep you safe and healthy in your workplace.