Updates to the OHS Act

11 April 2022

On December 1, 2021 changes were made to the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act that will affect supervisors, community members, and contractors engaged in work for the university. Changes are summarized below:

1. Psychological and social hazards

  • The need to address psychological and social hazards in the workplace remains in the OHS Act and has been positioned in the stated purpose of the legislation vs. in the definition of health and safety. 
  • The university’s Workplace Violence and Harassment policies and procedures have been updated to comply with the OHS Code. An eLearning offering will be launched at the end of April 2022 and will be a mandatory course for all employees.

2. Prime contractors

  • Prime contractor requirements have been further clarified and made specific to construction and oil and gas activities where more than one employer is present. Prime contractors have multiple key obligations for worksite health and safety and are responsible for coordinating safety for all employers and workers on construction and oil and gas worksites. 
  • The university has updated its procurement language and project management practices for construction activities where Prime Contractors are required. More information on Contractor Management is available on UAPPOL.

3. Joint Work Site Health and Safety Committee: name change

  • The Joint Work Site Health and Safety Committee (JWSHSC) is now the Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) and will take on some additional and modified duties as it updates its Terms of Reference.

4. Dangerous work and work refusal

  • Greater definition of dangerous work and changes to the work refusal process in support of a worker’s right to refuse dangerous work. 
  • The term “undue hazard” is used to define the triggers to initiate a work refusal and includes (in relation to an occupation) a hazard that poses a serious and immediate threat to the health and safety of a person. 
  • More information about the role of the supervisor, workers, and HSE and the process is found on the Right to refuse dangerous work page. A Google form-based Work Refusal Record, to be completed by the supervisor, has been updated to reflect the OHS Act changes. Workers continue to be protected from retaliation when they exercise a right or obligation under the OHS Act.

5. Serious incidents

  • Serious injuries where a worker has been or is likely to be admitted to a hospital are reportable to the provincial OHS regulator. This is a clarification of the previous wording. 
  • Serious incidents involving injuries or fatalities require immediate notification to OHS, an investigation, and submission of a report. 
  • Non-injury serious incidents require submission of a report to OHS in a timely fashion. Potentially serious incidents must be investigated and a report posted on the OHS incident portal. 
  • Advise HSE of any Serious Incidents immediately by calling the Unified Communication Centre at 780-492-5555. Provide your contact information and ask for a call back from the HSE Oncall Officer.
  • HSE is the university authority for contacts with OHS and is responsible for serious and potentially serious incident investigations and report submissions.
  • More information about Serious Injuries is found on the HSE Incident Reporting Portal and in the Incident Management element of the Health, Safety, and Environment Management System (HSEMS).

6. Health and safety program

  • Employers with more than 20 workers are still required to have a health and safety program. The required elements of the organization’s health and safety program are no longer spelled out in the OHS Act. 
  • The university’s health and safety program is reflected in the Health, Safety and Environment Policy and the Health, Safety and Environment Management System (HSEMS).

7. OHS Code changes

  • The OHS Code has undergone a revision with one major noted change where requirements for Laser and X-Ray safety are no longer under the provincial Radiation Protection Act. OHS Code Part 20, Radiation Exposure now covers these requirements.
    • The university continues to administer laser and x-ray devices, lab registrations, and required inspections.
    • OHS Officers are now following up on enforcement matters versus specialized provincial radiation subject matter experts.
    • Reporting of radiation over-exposures are now being done using the OHS reporting portal.

8. Updates to HSEMS

9. Supervisory responsibilities

For more information about changes to the OHS Act, contact hse.info@ualberta.ca