There are significant updates to compliance requirements under the OHS Act that have come into effect starting June 1, 2018. Some employers have expressed uncertainty on how best to comply to provisions where they feel the definitions of what constitutes a construction work site, who is the prime contractor, or the make-up of a Joint Worksite Health and Safety Committee (JWSHSC) may be unclear. One frequent question is the need for individual employer as well as site JWSHSCs on the same site.
Section 56 of the new OHS Act provides the opportunity for prime contractors, employers, and other parties affected by the legislation to seek approval for an alternate approach. An approval allows for a statutory Director to approve a process, equipment, standard, course or training agency, or an alternative to strict compliance with a specific legislated provision.
You can find out more from OHS on health and safety committees at https://www.alberta.ca/work-site-health-safety-committees.aspx. This includes the link to the Self-Evaluation tool. Completion of the tool is required for all HSC approval applications. ACA recommends, and OHS requires, that applications contain sufficient information to address the primary intent of the legislated changes, namely, ensuring a safe worksite with:
- Workers having knowledge of the hazards and access to basic health and safety information,
- Worker participation in health and safety discussions and committees, and
- Workers having the right to refuse to perform dangerous work and be protected from reprisal for such refusal
ACA is working with OHS to share best practices based on the experiences of such approvals.