Alberta: Budget Increase Will Pay for More Inspectors, E-Learning Tools

Alberta's workplace safety and health budget will increase by to $14 million in 2006-07, an addition of $2 million over last year.

Human Resources and Employment, which oversees occupational safety and health in the province, will use the extra funds to hire nine additional staff members to inspect worksites, work with employers, update legislation and develop best practices to improve safety on Alberta's worksites. The additional funding will also go toward developing new resources, such as e-learning tools, to help people stay safe on the job.

"This increase shows the commitment of the Alberta government to maintaining and improving safe working conditions in Alberta's hot economy," said Mike Cardinal, minister of Human Resources and Employment. "Safety is a shared responsibility. Everyone needs to know how to keep workplaces safe and government is going to get that information to Alberta employers and workers."

This year, more Partnerships in Health and Safety staff will be hired to work with employers seeking to implement a formal health and safety management system. Employers can work with a consultant to develop and implement a customized system for their business and then have their workplace audited by a third party.

If they pass the audit, the employers earn a certificate of recognition that is from Human Resources and Employment and the Workers' Compensation Board (WCB). Certificate holders are eligible for a rebate of up to 20 percent of their WCB premiums.

"With the addition of more Occupational Health and Safety Officers we'll be able to inspect more worksites and more quickly investigate workplace incidents," Cardinal said. This year's addition brings the total number of officers to 87, an increase of 23 since 2000.

The province also will develop a toolkit for high school teachers that will include information to support the delivery of occupational health and safety information in the existing school curriculum. Students will receive passports to use as an official record of the safety training they complete.

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