On April 17, 2009, Workplace Health and Safety released the 2009 revisions to Alberta's OHS Code.  Employers have until July 1, 2009 to comply with the new requirements before they become enforceable.

Part 9 of the OHS Code, which deals with Fall Protection, was the subject of some of the most significant revisions.  There are several new requirements in Part 9 dealing with work positioning, leading edge fall protection systems, equipment compatibility, fixed ladders, fall protection on vehicles and loads and procedures in place of fall protection equipment.  Further, some of the revisions expand employer responsibility with respect to fall protection plans and fall protection training.  In particular, subsection 141(2) now provides a prescriptive list of 10 topics that must be covered in fall protection training sessions.  According to Jason Laurie, the primary architect of these revisions, most fall protection training in Alberta falls short of complying with these new requirements.  

Enforcement of Alberta's OHS laws has increased almost ten-fold since 2005 when there were only 12 prosecutions resulting in $554,050 in fines.  In 2008 there were 22 prosecutions resulting in $5,083,000.  It has never been more important to ensure that your organization is complying with the minimum requirements of Alberta's OHS laws in order to avoid the costs associated with work-related incidents.  To further amplify how strictly Alberta's OHS laws are being enforced, on April 21, 2009 Workplace Health and Safety laid a total of 53 charges against three companies stemming from the deaths of two foreign workers at an oilsands project in northern Alberta.

It all boils down to implementing and maintaining an effective OHS management system that demonstrates due diligence and complies with the minimum requirements of Alberta's OHS laws.

Does your organization have one?

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