Alberta streamlines rules for health and safety committees

Employers will only need one committee, not one per site

Alberta streamlines rules for health and safety committees

Alberta is making changes to its health and safety committee requirements to “reduce the administrative burden” on employers. Rather than being required at each work site, committees and representatives will be required for each employer regardless of how many sites the employer operates.

For example, a school division will require only one committee rather than having a committee at each school in the division, says the government. This revises the existing rule that requires one health and safety committee or representative per work site. 

The new rule requires employers with 19 or fewer employees to have a representative while employers with 20 or more workers will have a committee. Worksites with multiple employers where work lasts 90 days or more are also required to have a site-specific committee or representative, depending on the number of workers.

Employers have until Jan. 20 to comply with the new rules. Exempted are parties with existing collective agreements until the agreement expires. The government may also designate additional committees or representatives where needed.

“We have heard that the current rules around health and safety committees are not working. The new rules for health and safety committees will support healthy and safe workplaces while reducing administrative burdens,” said Minister of Labour and Immigration Jason Copping. “Employers are still responsible for ensuring healthy and safe work sites and the new rules provide the flexibility to meet the unique needs of each workplace.”

Alberta is also reducing the mandatory government-approved training for each committee from two to one to reduce repetitive content and time spent away from work. These new requirements will save the province an estimated $275,000 per year, the government said.

“We are pleased with the ministry’s decision to allow the operation of a single overarching occupational health and safety committee, as opposed to one at every site,” said Greg Miller, assistant superintendent at Grande Prairie and District Catholic Schools. “Having received a variance to operate a division-wide committee a few months back, we have found it to effectively serve the health and safety needs of our district, while allowing us to meet the requirements of the OHS act in a fiscally responsible manner.”