Supervisor Safety Declaration

A supervisor's commitment to safety best practices.

In December 2022, the university launched A Culture of Care: The University of Alberta’s Safety Action Plan. The goal of the action plan is to enhance the university’s safety culture – physical, psychological and cultural – so that everyone owns their safety performance and that of others. 

Senior leaders and university management, including those at the faculty and portfolio level are committed to providing their units, supervisors and staff with the resources, communication, training, supports, and expectations to enact processes that achieve safe work.

As a supervisor, you have some specific legal and moral responsibilities (a duty of care) that you need to understand and ensure are carried out. You are also a leader in setting safety best practices, and the university has some clear expectations of you related to safety.

A supervisor is defined as a person who has charge of a worksite or authority over a worker. A worksite is defined as any place where work occurs. Examples of U of A worksites include labs, offices, field research sites, construction sites, classrooms and more. If you have staff in your area who supervise worksites but may not supervise employees, please forward them the declaration and ask them to complete it as well.

YOUR safety promise

To confirm this commitment to safety, supervisors are asked to complete the Supervising Safely course and to sign the Supervisor Safety Declaration. The declaration will then be distributed on an annual basis for supervisors to sign and acknowledge their continued commitment to safety.

  • Step 1 - Complete the Supervising Safely course
  • Step 2 - Sign the Supervisor Safety Declaration

     Complete the Supervising Safely Course    Sign the Supervisor Safety Declaration

Note: Supervisors who have completed Supervisory HSE Professional Development since August 1, 2023 are encouraged to complete Supervising Safely but have the option to instead review the summary of changes between the old and new version of the course. Prior to signing the Supervisor Safety Declaration, s upervisors must also complete the Workplace Violence and Harassment Prevention course . This course should already have been completed as it is a requirement during onboarding.

Below you will find some background information to help you understand these responsibilities, followed by a declaration that all supervisors at the University of Alberta are asked to sign to acknowledge their understanding and commitment to fulfilling their duties as a supervisor. A toolkit of related activities and resources is also available to help you turn principles into meaningful action. 




The university is diverse and complex, operating many worksites with an extensive range of hazards. No matter the location or type of worksite, supervisors have a duty of care to provide safe environments in the worksites they oversee or have charge of, including worksites where supervisors have tasked others to manage the worksite. This duty of care must be fulfilled in a manner that is in compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS Act) and with the university’s Health, Safety and Environment Policy, supporting appendices and procedures.

From a legal perspective your health and safety duty of care is found in:

  • Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety Act Chapter O-2.2 Part 1 Section 4, and
  • University of Alberta Policies and Procedures (UAPPOL), with responsibilities for supervision under the Health, Safety and Environment Policy and Management System
  • Various federal, provincial and/or municipal health and safety related legislation detailing obligations for which the supervisor will act on behalf of the employer to achieve compliance

Specifically, the Alberta OHS Act sets out a supervisor’s legal obligations as follows:

Every supervisor shall

  1. as far as it is reasonably practicable for the supervisor to do so, 
    • take all precautions necessary to protect the health and safety of every worker under the supervisor’s supervision, 
    • ensure that a worker under the supervisor’s supervision works in the manner and in accordance with the requirements of this Act, the regulations and the OHS Code, and 
    • ensure that none of the workers under the supervisor’s supervision are subjected to or participate in harassment or violence at the work site,
  2. advise every worker under the supervisor’s supervision of all known or reasonably foreseeable hazards to health and safety in the area where the worker is performing work, 
  3. report to the employer a concern about an unsafe or harmful work site act that occurs or has occurred or an unsafe or harmful work site condition that exists or has existed, and 
  4. cooperate with any person exercising a duty imposed by the OHS Act, the regulations and the OHS Code.


The university and its colleges, faculties and portfolios are responsible to set up faculty, staff, students, contractors and visitors for success in achieving safety performance. Some key ways this is done are:

  • The Culture of Care Leadership Commitment is signed by all senior leaders starting with the president and board chair. This commits leaders to lead and act in alignment with eighth safety principles. Although safety is a shared responsibility, senior leaders must show leadership and demonstrate their commitment to safety and the Culture of Care.
  • The Health, Safety and Environment department provides an extensive range of tools, templates, e-learning and professional guidance to assist supervisors in fulfilling their health and safety responsibilities.
  • The university has developed two mandatory e-learning courses for supervisors to set them up for success in understanding their basic health and safety responsibilities:
    • The Supervising Safely course introduces basic elements of safety management and identifies specific legal responsibilities of a supervisor such as developing hazard assessments and controls, assessing competency, having emergency response plans and reporting incidents with a bias to learning from them to prevent recurrence. 
    • The Workplace Violence and Harassment Prevention course defines what violence and harassment may look like in the workplace, how to prevent it, what resources are available to the university community and what steps should be taken in the case of alleged workplace violence or harassment.


Supervisors at the University of Alberta are expected to carry out the following actions that demonstrate a commitment to safety and a supervisor’s legal obligations under the OHS Act. 

  • As far as it is reasonably practicable, for the worksites that a supervisor is responsible for, supervisors will confirm that:
    • they are actively creating and supporting environments that are safe, welcoming, diverse, inclusive, equitable and respectful by:
      • engaging in learning opportunities alone and in their teams, such as completing Module 1: Foundations in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and further modules in development;
      • creating an open environment through leadership that embraces difference and encourages communication while  ensuring that workers under their care have regular opportunities to articulate access needs or other inclusion mechanisms;
  • the supervisor is available to provide effective, onsite supervision to workers under their care and will designate an appropriately competent alternate supervisor in their absence;
  • workers have completed all required safety training and maintain currency;
  • hazard assessments and procedures are completed before workers start new tasks, when the work significantly changes or when new work is pursued;  
  • hazard assessments and safe work procedures/standard operating procedures are available and up to date;
  • workers have reviewed and understand the hazards associated with their work;
  • workers use all the hazard controls specified in safe work procedures/standard operating procedures when reasonably possible;
  • workers will properly use or wear appropriate personal protective equipment including additional protection for specialized tasks with unique hazards as identified and documented in the hazard assessments and safe work procedures/standard operating procedures; 
  • if applicable, any off-campus research activities (field research) have plans that address hazards in these environments, and these plans are prepared and approved as required by university protocols;
  • working alone activities are only permitted for work that can be safely undertaken by a lone worker and a working alone plan is in place to adequately support lone workers.
  • an incident or potential serious incident (near miss) that occurs on any worksite is reported to the University of Alberta through the ARISE Incident Reporting portal and that serious incidents (i.e injury incidents, fires, explosions, building/crane collapse) are immediately reported to the Unified Control Centre (UCC) at 780-492-5555 by requesting to speak to the  HSE Officer on-call. (Any external reporting will be handled by the University of Alberta.); 
  • workers are familiar with emergency preparedness plans and the location and use of emergency supplies and equipment; and
  • the supervisor supports the university and workers in achieving compliance with other applicable federal, provincial, municipal health and safety legislation.


Every effort will be made to support you in delivering on your health and safety expectations. To confirm your understanding of these expectations, we ask that you complete your Supervisor's Safety Declaration.

Thank you for being a safety champion and for your commitment to a Culture of Care.