Workers standing in factory, wearing protective gear for their safety

2023 Alberta OHS Legislation Changes

DF SafetyHSE Compliance, News & Updates

Let’s start today’s blog with a question! What change have you experienced that taught you a valuable lesson? 

I can share first! I moved here to Canada when I was 15 years old. Moving from one country to another required me to adapt to a new culture, adjust to new methods, and change my old habits and routine. At first, the change was indescribably overwhelming, but I kept a positive attitude and mindset. This made me adaptable and helped me realize that change is permanent because it happens in every aspect of our life. It’s normal to resist it, but not doing so will force us to listen, understand, and provide feedback, which will often lead to positive results. 

Changes occur in safety to ensure procedures and rules are effective, and that OHS professionals excel in exchanging information as we all have the same goals; to contribute to workplaces’ success, increase a safe environment, and maintain compliance with legislation.  

Today, let’s discuss three Alberta OHS legislation changes, which came into effect on March 31st, 2023. 

AB OHS Code Part 11 – First Aid Training

First aid training is updated to align with CSA Standard Z1210-17 (First aid training for the workplace – Curriculum and quality management for training agencies). Before the changes occurred, first aid training courses were called Emergency, Standard, and Advanced First Aid. By March 31st, the first aid training’s curriculum and course names changed: Emergency is equivalent to Basic First Aid, Standard is now known as Intermediate First Aid, while Advanced remains the same.  

Despite the legislative changes, workplace first aiders are NOT required to get new certificates before their valid first aid certificate’s expiry date. This means, if a worker has a standard first aid certificate from an approved training provider, they are considered to have intermediate first aid. If you need to re-take the course soon, register yourself with an approved first aid training provider by checking the list of approved Alberta first aid training agencies (April-June 2023) to ensure you receive the updated curriculum and your certificate is acceptable.

First aid kit hanging on wall by emergency protocal
Alberta legislation for First Aid Training was updated on March 31, 2023.

AB OHS Code Part 11 – First Aid Kits 

First aid kits must now meet CSA Standard Z1220-17 (First aid kits for the workplace). The previous legislation previously called first aid kits: Type P, Alberta No. 2, and Alberta No. 3. The new legislation has three types of CSA Standard First Aid Kits, and these are: Type 1: Personal first aid kits, Type 2: Basic first aid for low and medium risk environments, and Type 3: Intermediate first aid higher risk environments. The Type 2 and 3 first aid kits come in 3 sizes; Small (Sm) is for workplaces with 2-25 workers, Medium (Med) is for 26-50 workers, and Large (Lg) is for 51-100 workers per shift. 

To ensure compliance with the first aid requirements, employers must classify work activities (low, medium, high risk), identify the number of workers per shift, and provide the distance the work site is from a medical facility. Ensure to gather this information using the Schedule 2 First Aid of Alberta OHS Code (March 31, 2023).  

For example, an employer is in construction, has 15 workers per shift, and a medical facility is 15 minutes travel from the workplace. Schedule 2 – Table 3 High hazard work tells us the work activity is high risk and Schedule 2 – Table 7 first aid requirements for high hazard work require CSA Standard Z1220-17 Type 3 Intermediate First Aid Kit (Sm), 3 blankets, 1 basic (emergency) first aider, and 1 Intermediate (standard) first aider for 10-19 workers per shift and to close the work site (up to 20 mins).  

To update your previous first aid kit to CSA Standard, you can either buy a new kit or add contents to your existing one. New additional contents are identified in the change highlights information provided by Alberta. 

Change highlights – First Aid – Part 11 in the OHS Code (alberta.ca) 

Worker carrying hearing protection
Alberta legislation for Noise Exposure was update on March 31, 2023.

AB OHS Code Part 16 – Noise Exposure 

A high percentage of workers are exposed to loud noise daily, especially in industries like construction or manufacturing, which can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss or tinnitus. Damage to the inner ear is irreversible, so it’s essential to be proactive in protecting your hearing. The last new legislative change we’re discussing is the new requirement for employers to ensure workers wearing hearing protection devices (HPD), like ear foams and earmuffs are fit tested. Fit testing must meet the CSA Standard Z94.2-14 (R2019), Hearing Protection Devices – Performance, Selection, Care, and Use.  

I worked in a loud environment and witnessed workers either not wearing or wearing HPD incorrectly for many reasons such as to communicate effectively or due to overprotection. The purpose of this requirement is to prevent noise induced hearing loss, ensure that hearing protection devices are effective in reducing noise, and reduce the issues/reasons for incompliance.  

Hearing protection fit testing can be conducted either quantitatively or qualitatively. The quantitative method requires specialized equipment which can be costly, but preferable because it measures the accurate amount of sound that is getting through an individual’s HPD. This method is recommended if you have more than ten workers constantly exposed to loud noise daily. You can either invite or send employees to a third party that conducts quantitative fit testing.  

The qualitative method includes the use of a pass or fail checklist. The workers wear their HPD correctly, talk loudly, and listen to noises around them; noise should be reduced with hearing protection on. This is a less costly and simpler method to comply with. However, it relies on the worker’s sense of hearing and can be less accurate. This method can work if you have fewer workers, who are not exposed to noise daily or to constant noise during their entire shift.  

If the fit testing results show that the current HPD doesn’t greatly reduce the noise, it is recommended to provide workers with other HPD options and allow them to use their preferred hearing protection. Custom HPD can also be an option, or a last resort. 

Health and safety improves over time; laws may become obsolete when no longer effective, or there are new methods implemented that can greatly improve their efficiency and effectiveness. Don’t forget to check the updated legislation for more information, communicate the applicable changes in the workplace, and adapt them to be compliant.