Every year, working Albertans are killed or harmed on the job. By taking actions before an event occurs, workplace illnesses and injuries can be prevented. This is the ultimate goal of the occupational health and safety (OHS) system – to keep workplaces and workers healthy and safe.
The OHS system includes employers, health and safety associations, labour organizations, service providers (consultants, trainers and auditors), the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB), government, and workers, among others who all have a role to play in ensuring the system works as intended. Everyone in the workplace has responsibilities, each according to their authority and control, to ensure health and safety.
Starting in 2019, the Alberta government introduced a prevention initiative that outlines priorities for the OHS system. The purpose is to facilitate system alignment and coordinated actions, and evaluate and provide updates on the impacts of initiative actions.
To align prevention efforts among the OHS system partners, disease and injury areas where workers are most affected and/or have the greatest risk are identified.
The 3 priority diseases and injuries are:
- musculoskeletal disorders (due to repetitive use, overexertion and heavy lifting)
- slips, trips and falls
- psychosocial hazards (including workplace violence, harassment, and mental health)
These priorities were identified by reviewing several data sources including WCB claims, by both cost and total number of claims. These priority diseases and injuries occur in all industries across Alberta.
In addition to these, 2 priority workforce types have been identified that are known to be at higher risk of disease and injury:
- small businesses – private sector employers who have less than 20 workers
- vulnerable workers – individuals who have one or more of the following characteristics: are young (aged 24 or less), are older (aged 55 or more), are Indigenous, have a short tenure (employed in temporary, seasonal or casual work contracts/arrangements - up to 6 months) of work, are seasonal workers, have multiple jobs or are temporary foreign workers and/or migrants
OHS system alignment will be facilitated through the education of OHS system partners, the sharing and disseminating of information on the current state of the system, and the progress on the priority areas through business planning and annual reporting.
Through ongoing engagement, we will continue to encourage all OHS system partners to work towards the same priority goals. Through collaboration, organizations will be able to capitalize on expertise and alignment of efforts to have a greater effect of the system priorities.