Health and Safety Concerns

Workplace Health and Safety is covered under Article 22—Workplace Environment.

Article 22 states that “the Board shall make reasonable and proper provisions for a safe and healthy workplace environment.” That means that the Board must provide a safe workplace, free of chemical, environmental and other safety hazards.

When it comes to identifying potential hazards or unsafe working conditions, employees and the Board have joint responsibility for workplace health and safety. While the Board must identify potential risks and provide appropriate facilities for the work of all members of the University community, it is also incumbent on employees to use equipment and materials safely and identify potential problems.

Example: Faculty members in the Department of Chemistry are using dangerous chemicals as part of their research. In this case, the University would ensure that the laboratory space provided for such activities was up to code. The University would also ensure that faculty, staff, and students working in the lab had the proper credentials and training. Employees, however, would be responsible for using the chemicals safely. Employees would also be responsible for identifying potential problems as they arose. For instance, if a faculty member noticed that chemicals were being improperly stored, it would be up to the faculty member to report the situation.

Employees also have the responsibility to stop work if they believe the environment is unsafe or unhealthy.

Although Workplace Health and Safety is covered in the Collective Agreement, it is also covered in the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Section 2 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act lays out the following responsibilities:

Obligations of employers, workers, etc.

2(1) Every employer shall ensure, as far as it is reasonably practicable for the employer to do so,

(a) the health and safety of

(i) workers engaged in the work of that employer, and

(ii) those workers not engaged in the work of that employer but present at the work site at which that work is being carried out, and

(b) that the workers engaged in the work of that employer are aware of their responsibilities and duties under this Act, the regulations and the adopted code.

(2) Every worker shall, while engaged in an occupation,

(a) take reasonable care to protect the health and safety of the worker and of other workers present while the worker is working, and

(b) co-operate with the worker’s employer for the purposes of protecting the health and safety of

(i) the worker,

(ii) other workers engaged in the work of the employer, and

(iii) other workers not engaged in the work of that employer but present at the work site at which that work is being carried out.

(3) Every supplier shall ensure, as far as it is reasonably practicable for the supplier to do so, that any tool, appliance or equipment that the supplier supplies is in safe operating condition.

(4) Every supplier shall ensure that any tool, appliance, equipment, designated substance or hazardous material that the supplier supplies complies with this Act, the regulations and the adopted code.[1]

[1] Province of Alberta. Occupational Health and Safety Act. Revised Statutes of Alberta 2000, Chaper 0-2. Current as of January 1, 2016. Alberta Queen’s Printer. Pages 6-7.