Alberta’s occupational health and safety act will undergo its first comprehensive review since it came into effect more than four decades ago, the government announced Wednesday. Labour Minister Christina Gray said the review will examine everything from compliance and enforcement to employee engagement and prevention, to make sure standards and practices better reflect modern workplaces. “We are still seeing too many stories of workplace incidents that could have been avoided,” Gray said. “Other jurisdictions have recognized that workplaces change, the nature of work changes, the type of work — contracting, shift work — has changed.” The review will include an online survey and roundtable sessions with employers, employees, academics and health-and-safety associations. Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, applauded the announcement. “Workers deserve the benefit of the latest research to protect their health and safety, particularly in dangerous fields,” he said in a release. “No worker should have to work in unsafe, unprotected conditions for decades simply because we lack legal mechanisms to address a known problem.” Public submissions will be accepted until Oct. 16. As Gray announced the review Wednesday, the United Conservative Party opposition slammed the government’s recent labour law overhaul. Labour critic Glenn van Dijken said internal documents obtained by Keep Alberta Working showed the NDP bulldozed through consultations with predetermined outcomes. “These documents make it clear — the government’s consultations on this legislation, especially with respect to labour code changes, were a sham,” he said. Gray denied the accusation, saying Albertans were listened to in the review.
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