Bill 6, The Protection and Compliance Statutes Amendment Act, 2012 was recently introduced to the Alberta legislature, and will amend three Acts, including the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Safety Codes Act, as part of a continuing effort by the provincial government to hold employers accountable for the health and safety of their business operations.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act sets out the rules which pertain to the health and safety of workers.  Notable amendments to the OH&S Act relate to the introduction to administrative penalties.  Employers, prime contractors, contractors, suppliers or workers who have failed to comply with a provision of the OH&S Act, Regulations or Code or an Order issued by an OH&S officer will be subject to an administrative penalty not exceeding $10,000, which amount can accumulate on a per day basis in the case of an ongoing failure to comply.  Prior to the amendment, to enforce compliance with OH&S law, an officer had the authority to issue an Order.  However, if the Order was not complied with, the only available option was to pursue a prosecution.

The Safety Codes Act applies to fire protection and applies to the design, manufacture, construction, installation, operation and maintenance of buildings, electrical systems, elevating devices, gas systems, plumbing and private sewage disposal systems and pressure equipment.  Notable amendments include:  the introduction of a three year limitation period for prosecution of offences under the Act, rather than relying upon the six months available under the Provincial Offences Procedures Act; increasing the maximum potential fine for a first offence from $15,000 to $100,000; and increasing the maximum potential fine for a second or subsequent offence from $30,000 to $500,000.

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