Sask Labour Update 2023: Oh, Shift! Brace Yourself for OH&S Regulatory Changes!

May 25, 2023

The Saskatchewan Trucking Association (STA) had the privilege of participating in the Saskatchewan Labour Update 2023, a prominent event hosted by MLT Aikins at the prestigious Delta Hotel in Regina. This gathering proved invaluable as it shed light on the significant legislative amendments that have unfolded in recent years, profoundly impacting how employers navigate the complexities of Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S).

The ever-evolving landscape of regulatory amendments has continued, and most notably, the introduction of Bill 91, An Act to Amend the Saskatchewan Employment Act, 2022, is poised to receive royal assent at the closure of the current parliamentary session. This forthcoming legislation is going to introduce further transformative changes that employers need to anticipate and adapt to.

What implications does this hold for you as an employer operating within an industry that inherently depends on safety measures? It signifies the emergence of regulations and legislation that you will need to be aware of. As soon as this legislation receives royal assent, employers will be obligated to adhere to the new requirements concerning workplace violence and harassment as well as investigative procedures. Consequently, it is crucial for employers to proactively prepare themselves for potential government audits of their harassment and violence policies, ensuring compliance and mitigating any associated risks.

The Amendment Act places significant emphasis on violence prevention and introduces noteworthy alterations to the overall responsibilities of employers, supervisors, and workers themselves, all of which are now encompassed within the Act. Employers and supervisors will now be mandated to take reasonable and practical measures to ensure that workers are safeguarded from any form of violence within the workplace. Simultaneously, the Act has been amended to incorporate a duty on workers to abstain from engaging in or contributing to acts of violence towards others in the workplace. This two-fold amendment reinforces the collective obligation to foster a safe and secure work environment for all individuals involved.

Under the previous regulations, only specific types of workplaces, such as healthcare facilities, correctional services, police services, education services, financial services, taxi and transit services, crisis and intervention counselling services, alcohol-selling premises, and late-night retail premises, were mandated to have a violence policy and prevention plan in place. However, the recent changes bring forth a comprehensive alteration, requiring all employers to develop and implement a written policy addressing workplace violence, harassment, and prevention. This policy must be developed following consultations with the company's Health and Safety Committee (HSC) or, for smaller employers exempt from the HSC requirement, their designated Health and Safety Representative. The objective is to ensure that every employer actively engages in the creation and implementation of measures to effectively address and mitigate risks associated with workplace violence and harassment.

With regard to workplace investigations, the Amendment Act mandates employers to conduct thorough investigations into every instance of workplace harassment, potentially introducing a significant surge in the number of investigations undertaken by employers. The definition of harassment incidents has also broadened, encompassing formal complaints as well as instances of suspected or potential harassment. Given that existing legislation necessitates formal training in workplace investigation practices for all individuals conducting such investigations, it is an opportune moment to provide your staff with additional training to ensure compliance with the legislation. Anticipating a heightened demand for investigations across all employers, investing in training now will not only foster compliance but also equip your team with the necessary skills to handle investigations effectively.

Have you just discovered these changes mean you are going to need more comprehensive OH&S training? Look no further than the Saskatchewan Trucking Association! We've got you covered, whether it's building a robust health and safety system, conducting investigations, or receiving training in identifying and tackling workplace violence and harassment. Trust us to meet all your training needs.

Do you have a trusted employee ready to be elevated to the next level? The Certified Transportation Safety Professional (CTSP) designation provides the gateway to manage a trucking company safety and compliance program.

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