Lakeshore Regional Police Service and the RCMP have joined forces with the Alberta to coordinate the investigation of serious workplace health and safety incidents.
The province and 10 police services have signed the Westray Memorandum of Understanding that defines protocols for investigating serious workplace incidents, states a news release April 28.
That will help investigators determine if criminal charges may be warranted in addition to occupational health and safety (OHS) violations.
“All workers have the right to safe and healthy workplaces, from the very first shift right through to retirement,” Labour Minister Christina Gray says.
“The agreement will help OHS and police to better serve and protect Albertans to help ensure every worker comes home safe at the end of the day.”
Criminal charges are another enforcement tool to help ensure compliance with workplace health and safety laws.
While OHS and police officers currently coordinate when they investigate a serious workplace incident, the memorandum formally sets out protocols to assess the situation and determine if it involves potential OHS violations, criminal activity or both.
“This Memorandum of Understanding will help solidify the coordination and communication of Alberta’s police services with those who investigate serious workplace occurrences,” says RCMP K Division Assistant Commissioner Marlin Degrand, who also represents the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police.
“By defining roles and protocols, police can focus on any criminal activity that may have occurred and investigators can ensure their time is spent on the incident investigation – and that benefits all Albertans.”
On May 9, 1992, a large explosion in the Westray Mine in Plymouth, N.S. killed 26 underground miners. A subsequent public inquiry blamed the mine management and government for what was deemed a preventable disaster.
In response to the Westray Mine disaster, the federal government amended the Criminal Code to allow criminal charges in serious cases of workplace fatalities or injuries. The law applies to anyone on a work site who directs the work of others.