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Working Wise: Workplace Safety

Dear Working Wise,

My son works in a cabinet-making shop and I'm worried he might get hurt at work. He tells me that he sometimes works without the proper safety equipment and is left on his own to figure out how the machines work. Who is responsible for ensuring his safety?
Signed, Worried

Dear Worried:

Safety is everyone’s responsibility. Your son is responsible for working safely, helping keep the workplace safe and watching out for co-workers.

Employers must comply with the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act, Regulation and Code, including:

• Keeping equipment in safe working order;
• Properly labelling and storing dangerous chemicals;
• Informing their workers of any dangers on the job site;
• Developing safe work procedures and ensuring workers follow them;
• Ensuring workers perform their duties as required by the OHS legislation;
• Arranging for medical assessments for workers exposed to specific hazards.
• Monitoring workers who may be exposed to hazards such as chemicals or noise;
• Ensuring workers have the training and experience needed to do their jobs safely.

Workers must:

• Take reasonable care to keep themselves and co-workers safe;
• Wear personal protective equipment required by their employer;
• Take and follow health and safety training provided by their employer;
• Follow health and safety work procedures developed by their employer;
• Refuse work that may put them or another worker in “imminent danger”;
• Report unsafe or malfunctioning equipment to the employer immediately;
• Avoid tasks they are not competent to do unless they are being supervised.

Reporting workplace injuries to WCB-Alberta

For employees working in workplaces covered by workers’ compensation, there are separate requirements for reporting injuries to the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB). These requirements are covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act, which is different from the OHS legislation. For more information and access to WCB publications and forms, visit the WCB website.

The Government of Alberta promotes healthy and safe workplaces in a number of ways, including:

• Partnering with safety associations, industry groups, employers, educational institutions and labour organizations;
• Recognizing employers who have developed a health and safety management system and met established standards with a Certificate of Recognition.
• Enforcing the OHS Act, Regulation and Code through inspections, investigations and prosecutions;
• Publishing OHS statistics;
• Supporting North American Occupational Safety and Health Week
• Educating employers and workers through free online training and public awareness campaigns, including: Before It’s an Injury, Bloody Lucky, etc.

If your son has a concern about safety at work, he should raise it with his supervisor. If his concern is not taken seriously, he can call Alberta Occupational Health and Safety, toll-free, at +1 (866) 415-8690 for advice and information.

For more information and tips on healthy and safe workplaces, visit the OH&S website

Photo Credit: © iStockphoto/Jason_V

Working Wise is a syndicated newspaper column prepared by the Government of Alberta to answer work-related questions from Albertans. Do you have a work-related question? You can send it to Charles Strachey (charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca), a manager with Alberta Community and Social Services.

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