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New laws aim to protect workers in hostile work environments

Workplace safety is a key concern for many workers and their families across the country. Alberta lawmakers are paying attention to hostile work environments as part of their labour law overhaul, which aims to protect the physical and mental health of workers. Recent amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act aim to provide better support for injured workers and to modernize health and safety regulations for workers across the province.

Amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act included enshrining the right for employees to refuse dangerous work, creating work site health and safety committees, and expanding rules to prevent workplace violence and harassment. There are also some proposed changes to the Workers' Compensation Act. These include a $90,772 benefit for families of those who die in a workplace-related accident and more benefits for young workers who suffer long-term injuries at work.

These amendments will give workers more legal rights if they are faced with hostile work environments or dangerous tasks on the job. The new legislation clarifies that workers cannot face any reprisals or be harmed if they refuse dangerous work. This is the first overhaul of Alberta workplace safety legislation in over 15 years.

Until these changes were instituted, Alberta was the only province that did not have joint work site health and safety committees. These committees, along with legislative changes and protections, will help to reduce the risk of workplace injury as well as harassment and other issues faced by workers. Those who are dealing with hostile work environments and need help understanding their options under Alberta law should contact a lawyer.

Source: Edmonton Journal, "NDP gives workers right to refuse dangerous tasks amid labour overhaul", Clare Clancy, Nov. 27, 2017

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