“We don’t provide the resources to occupational health and safety to do their job to do more monitoring and investigation of these injuries,” Swann said. “We still don’t have the priority for safety and prevention in the workplace that we should have in 2014.” Swann accused the PC government of “skimping” on the resources. He said inspectors who go into workplaces require the time and training to identify the root causes and make the systematic changes that are needed. The ministry says it is doing just that, bolstering the number of occupational health and safety inspectors, investigators and technical advisers and increasing their training. Staff has increased to 129 in 2013, up from 102 four years ago. By the end of this year, the ministry expects to have 42 of its staff certified as peace officers, who can write tickets. The budget for OHS compliance — inspections, investigations and prosecutions — has also steadily increased from $22.4 million in 2012 to $27.4 million in 2014-15, although only $16 million has been spent so far this fiscal year. But NDP critic David Eggen maintains Alberta has fewer OHS inspectors than the national average. “When it comes to prosecutions, there doesn’t seem to be either the enforcement capacity, nor the deterrent of harsh penalties — and that’s a bad combination,” he said. Ministry officials said steps have been taken to boost enforcement, beginning with a shuffle of prosecutors responsible for OHS files. The ministry is also starting to use new powers to levy administrative penalties, rather than going through lengthy court proceedings. The ministry also has new powers to ticket workers on the spot for safety violations. To date, however, only five administrative penalties and 45 tickets have been issued, and 15 of those tickets have been quashed upon appeal, the ministry acknowledged.
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