The Protections and Compliance Statute Amendment
Act, which received royal assent in December, 2012
has resulted in a number of changes to Alberta's
Occupational Health and Safety Act. This article
highlights two key developments that stem from these amendments:
changes relating the designation of a prime contractor, and the
introduction of administrative penalties, a new enforcement
mechanism under the Act.
Changes in Prime Contractor Obligations
Section 3(1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act
has been amended and it now requires that every work site have a
have a prime contractor if there are two or more employers involved
in work at that site. Under the previous wording of this
section, a prime contractor only had to be designated when two or
more employers were involved in work at the site at the same
time. The objective of the amendment is to prevent
companies from scheduling work in a way that allows them to avoid
prime contractor obligations, as well as resolve the previous
ambiguity surrounding when it was necessary to designate a prime
Administrative Penalties 101
Although not in force until proclamation, the introduction of
administrative penalties as a new enforcement mechanism to ensure
compliance with the OHS Act, Regulation and
Code represents a significant change to the OHS landscape
in Alberta. Field Law has prepared this primer to explain how
administrative penalties will work and whom they will affect when
they come into force.
What Are Administrative Penalties?
Administrative penalties are financial penalties that may be
levied against a "regulated person," which is defined in
the legislation as all of the following:
Given the expansive definition of "regulated person,"
most parties present at a work site could be subject to an
What Purpose Will Administrative Penalties Serve?
Administrative penalties are a "middle ground" between
a compliance order and formal charges prosecuted in accordance with
the Act. They allow for an additional, and arguably
more efficient, enforcement mechanism through which to address
non-compliance with the Act, Regulation and
When Can an Administrative Penalty Be Levied?
An OHS officer may levy an administrative penalty if he or she
believes that a regulated person has contravened a provision of the
OHS Act, Regulations, or Code or has failed to
comply with an order under the Act, Regulations or
Code. As such, administrative penalties can be used
to address non-compliance in a wide array of
What Do Administrative Penalties Cost?
The maximum amount of an administrative penalty is $10,000.00.
However, if the regulated person continues to be non-compliant
despite the penalty, the penalty can be levied per day
during the entire period of non-compliance. In other words,
the $10,000.00 maximum is a "per day" maximum, and
therefore the total amount of the penalty can exceed this amount
where the non-compliance continues for more than one day.
If the Administrative Penalty is Paid, Can a
Regulated Person Still Be Prosecuted under the
No. Provided that the administrative penalty is paid, a
regulated person cannot also be charged for the same contravention.
Is There a Limitation Period for Administrative
An administrative penalty may be levied for a period two years
from the day the alleged contravention of the Act,
Regulations or Code occurred.
Can the Decision to Levy an Administrative Penalty
Yes. Appeals relating to administrative penalties will be heard
by the OHS Council.
Field Law's OHS Group welcomes questions about how these
changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act effect
your company's workplace and operations.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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