Alberta: 2006 Was a Record Year for Fines

For Alberta, Canada, 2006 was a record-setting year. According to Alberta Employment, Immigration and Industry, the province set records for the largest annual amount of occupational safety and health fines, the highest penalty for a company and the highest penalty for an individual.

Seven companies and three individuals were found guilty of occupational safety and health infractions for a total of $1.53 million in penalties (approximately U.S. $1.3 million).

Over 74 percent of that total went toward court-ordered payments to safety organizations or organizations that assist injured workers. Recipients included STARS Air Ambulance, the Canadian Cancer Society, the University of Alberta's Burn Unit, the Wetaskiwin Airport, Hinton Healthcare Foundation, Northern Lakes College and other health regions and post-secondary institutions for safety training programs.

"With the steady increase in the amounts of penalties, the courts are sending a clear message that workplace health and safety must be taken seriously," said Iris Evans, minister of Alberta Employment, Immigration and Industry. "As our work force grows, safety must be a top priority for everyone – government, employers and workers."

Reynolds Museum Ltd., a privately owned facility, received the highest-ever penalty under the province's Occupational Health and Safety Act – $500,000 (U.S. $428,167). This maximum penalty, the first of its kind, was the result of a July 14, 2005, incident in Wetaskiwin in which a 14-year old-was fatally injured when a truck box fell on him while he was sandblasting it.

Jeffrey Clements, operating as Reality Flooring, received the highest-ever penalty assessed against an individual – $75,000 (U.S. $64,225). This penalty is the result of an Occupational Health and Safety investigation into an April 24, 2003, incident in Edmonton in which an employee of Reality Flooring was burned while working with a solvent.

The maximum penalty for a first offense under the OHS Act is $500,000 and/or 6 months in prison for each charge.

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