Filing an Occupational Health and Safety Complaint
In Alberta’s occupational health and safety (OHS) legislation, teachers are considered workers, the principal is the supervisor, and the school division is the employer. The Occupational Health and Safety Act does not define or determine appropriate assignments or tasks for teachers to complete—only that the work that happens at the school must be done in a safe and healthy manner.
Legislation defines the obligations of the parties at the worksite. Teachers have a role in ensuring the safety of themselves and others at the worksite, including participating in the hazard assessment creation, and reporting health and safety concerns to the site supervisor as soon as possible. If the health and safety concern is not addressed, a complaint can be filed. A complaint is for reporting unhealthy or unsafe conditions at a workplace. Anyone can file a complaint about unhealthy or unsafe conditions.
Reporting unsafe work occurs when a worker believes that an unsafe or harmful work site, condition or act exists or has occurred. The teacher (worker) must report the unsafe or harmful work site condition to the school division (employer) or principal (supervisor).
If you are unsure of the best way to proceed, please contact Teacher Employment Services (TES) at 1-800-232-7208 or the OHS Contact Centre.
Before you call, ask yourself:
· Did you report unsafe work to your supervisor? What was the response?
· Did the site or school division’s health and safety committee review the unhealthy or unsafe condition? What
was the response?
Please note: According to section 5 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, a teacher (worker) who believes that an unsafe or harmful work site condition or act exists or has occurred must report it to the school division (employer) or principal (supervisor).
Second, have you reviewed the hazard assessment for your school?
· Does the hazard assessment address the unhealthy or unsafe condition for which you are filing a complaint?
· If not, why not? Suggest that the supervisor discuss the issue with the health and safety committee.
Then, consider whether the hazard can be eliminated:
· What controls are in place to limit the hazards associated with the unhealthy or unsafe condition to the
lowest level possible?
· How were the teachers and other worker groups at the school involved in the creation and review of the hazard assessments?
· How were the teachers and other worker groups informed of what they need to do in order to work in a
healthy and safe manner?
· How is healthy and safe work monitored by the employer?
· Is the focus of the complaint in the hazard assessment? Why or why not?
The internal responsibility system is the foundation of OHS legislation in Alberta. It includes the responsibility of the school division (employer), the principal (supervisor) and the teacher (and other workers in the building) to work in a safe manner and ensure their safety and the safety of others in the school. Is there evidence of the internal responsibility system in use at the school?
· If a teacher or other worker in the school makes a suggestion or requests that a health and safety issue be
considered or discussed by the health and safety committee, what happens?
· Where is this suggestion logged?
· What is the discussion?
· What is the reply to the suggestion?
· Is there an assessment of what is needed or not needed?
· How is this information shared with all workers at the school?
A suggestion from a teacher or other worker in the school can make a practice or condition healthier or safer. If a suggestion is not considered or is rejected by the health and safety committee, the teacher or worker can still file a complaint with OHS. However, if the work site is compliant with OHS legislation, an order will not be issued even if the suggestion has not been considered.
Finally, if you determine that it is appropriate to file an OHS complaint, this can be done by calling the OHS Contact Centre or through an online form. If you are filing online and the nature of the complaint has to do with harassment or immediate danger, you will be directed to phone the OHS Contact Centre. The online form is for non-urgent situations only.
You will be asked if you want to make an anonymous complaint. If you answer yes, you will go to the form for submitting an anonymous complaint. If you are not making an anonymous complaint, you will need to sign into MyAlberta Digital ID or create an account. If you choose to be anonymous, the information you will be required to provide will be the same, with the exception of your personal information. Once the complaint has been filed, the response time is typically 10 business days, or two hours if the danger is immediate.
Resources—Government of Alberta
ATA OHS Information
File an OHS Complaint
OHS Act, Regulation and Code
OHS Work Site Inspections: What to Expect
Report Unsafe Work
Hazard Assessment and Control: A Handbook for Alberta Employers and Workers
Teachers must report unsafe or harmful work site conditions to the school division (employer) or principal (supervisor). Anyone can report unhealthy or unsafe conditions at a workplace. Teachers may choose to remain anonymous when filing a complaint through OHS. #WEAREATA