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Monday, December 29, 2008

Alberta imposes record penalties on businesses in 2008

A report released today reveals Alberta businesses received a record number of fines in 2008 for Occupational Health and Safety violations.

Penalties totalling more than $5 million against 22 companies surpassed the 2007 total of $1.72 million against 12 companies.

“This government will continue working with industry, labour and safety associations to ensure our workplaces remain healthy and safe,” said Hector Goudreau, Minister of Employment and Immigration. “However, when all else fails and the law is broken, the courts take over and send the ultimate message. These sentences should remind employers that there will be consequences when they don’t meet their safety responsibilities.”

The percentage of penalties collected as “creative sentences” has also increased. In 2007, 74 per cent of penalties were paid to safety organizations to provide training or to organizations that assist injured workers. To date in 2008, more than 88 per cent of the fines, nearly $4.5 million, are in creative sentences with the largest awards going to the University of Alberta Engineering Safety and Risk Management Program ($345,000), Lakeland College ($300,000) and the Red Deer College ($300,000). Money was also awarded to organizations including Easter Seals and Blue Ridge Voluntary Fire Department.

What is missing from this press release is data on whether or not these record penalties for businesses have actually reduced workplace accidents, or materially assisted injured workers. Or is punishing Alberta businesses somehow intrinsically valuable and worth celebrating?

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on December 29, 2008 | Permalink


Matthew, good post and good question. How much should we rely on government to make sure work places are safe? Isn't my own self interest in the preservation of my sight and limbs, etc., more powerful?

"Penalties totalling more than $5 million against 22 companies surpassed the 2007 total of $1.72 million against 12 companies."

How do you increase your budget if you are in charge of levying fines? Simple, find more creative ways of levying more and/or bigger fines.

Posted by: TM | 2008-12-29 1:27:00 PM

I live in Alberta, and have so many friends who have been hurt, or nearly killed (no one has died yet) because companies refuse to follow regulations. Some companies even demand workers don't tie off or shut off breakers etc because it slows down work and costs too much.

Posted by: Pete | 2008-12-29 1:51:41 PM

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