AFL calling for changes to safety laws after teen dies on job

The Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) is calling for tougher safety laws in response to the death of a teen worker on July 19.
Fifteen-year-old Chris Lawrence was killed during a gravel crushing operation near Drumheller, Alta. Alberta Occupational Health and Safety is investigating the incident and the Arjon Construction site remains under a stop work order.

Alberta's child, youth and adolescent labour laws are among the worst in Canada, and Alberta is one of the most unsafe places for young people to work, according to the AFL. 

"Alberta's child labour laws are among the most lax in Canada," said Siobhan Vipond, AFL secretary treasurer. "This weekend's tragic news is yet another reminder that much more needs to be done to keep Albertans safe at work."

For 15-17 year olds, the research has shown young, minor workers are particularly vulnerable to abuses in the workplace, such as illegal deductions, unsafe work, handling of hazardous materials and sexual harassment.

For that reason, the AFL recommended a program of targeted inspections and a special, mandated health and safety training program for employers who hire workers aged 15-17. Alberta must also review whether some industrial activities or occupations are prohibited for adolescents, particularly in forklift operations and construction work, said the AFL.