Safety should never be a second thought. Alberta has resources at hand to deal with the troubling trend. The province has increased health and safety inspections by more than a third and has been targeting high-risk industries. Repeat offenders can be handed penalties or prosecuted, and those have risen from 11 to 18 in 2016. But it shouldn’t have to get to that point. Safety inspectors have the latitude to hand out tickets on-the-spot, with fines ranging from $100 to $500 for lapses such as failing to wear fall prevention gear or keeping a worksite free from slip hazards. But statistics show these violation tickets fell by 10 per cent last year. It would seem a pretty simple way to ensure what should be a given — workers returning home to their families each night. Swann questions the government’s commitment, saying it hasn’t improved Alberta’s safety culture since taking power. “The numbers of enforcement speak for themselves. It’s a pretty small rate.” This is an issue one would expect the NDP would jump all over given its past interest in holding the Tories’ feet to the fire. As far back as 2008, Brian Mason, then NDP leader, lashed out as the province continued to post one of the highest worker fatality rates in the country. “The government has paid nothing but lip service to this issue,” Mason said at the time.
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