Effective Oct. 1, 2013, certain changes to Alberta’s occupational health and safety legislation came into force which allow an occupational health and safety officer to issue administrative penalties against any party regulated by the legislation (such as workers, contractors, employers, prime contractors and suppliers), for violating or failing to comply with the occupational health and safety legislation.
Administrative penalties can be up to $10,000 per violation per day. The amount of the administrative penalty in each case will be set by the officer upon considering the seriousness of the contravention or failure to comply, the risk of harm resulting, and any other factors the officer considers relevant.
The person subject to the administrative penalty must be given at least 30 days to pay. Administrative penalties can be appealed to the Occupational Health and Safety Council. A person who pays an administrative penalty cannot be charged with an offense under the legislation with respect to the same contravention or non-compliance. The administrative penalty must be given within two years after the contravention or non-compliance. If unpaid, the administrative penalty can be enforced as a judgment.
In addition, as of Jan. 1, 2014, further changes to the legislation will come into force which will enable occupational health and safety officers to issue tickets to workers and employers who are in contravention of certain listed provisions of the occupational health and safety legislation. The amount of the tickets will range from $100 to $500. These tickets will be essentially the same as traffic tickets — they are given on the spot upon a contravention of the law. A person receiving the ticket can plead not guilty and go to court.
This new system provides a middle ground in the enforcement spectrum which, until now, only allowed for either orders to comply or prosecutions through the courts. These new measures are intended to act as an additional tool to address non-compliance with the legislation.
Cristina Wendel is a partner in the Edmonton office of Dentons. She is a member of the Labour and Employment Practice Group. She deals with various aspects of employment and labour law such as wrongful dismissal claims, employment standards disputes, human rights issues, occupational health and safety matters, labour arbitrations and labour relations board proceedings. Visit www.dentons.com
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