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Marking 50 Years Of Workplace Health And Safety Legislation In Saskatchewan

Released on October 24, 2022

Fifty years ago today The Occupational Health Act, 1972 came into force in response to existing concerns for workplace health and safety and the implications for the economic and social development of the province. 

Saskatchewan was the first jurisdiction in Canada to pass legislation specifically regulating health and safety in the workplace and the Act was a first of its kind in North America.

"We all have a stake in ensuring health and safety in the workplace. Everyone must come home safe at the end of the day," Labour Relations and Workplace Safety Minister Don Morgan said. "The philosophy of cooperation and responsibility is embedded in the legislation, and we must continue to work and expand workplace health and safety in Saskatchewan."   

The Occupational Health Act, 1972 established the requirement for workplaces to have an occupational health committee comprised of members representing both workers and employers. That requirement exists to this day and illustrates the importance of everyone working together to identify hazards to eliminate injuries, workplace illness and fatalities.

Saskatchewan was also the first province to introduce the three basic rights of workers: the right to know about hazards in the workplace, the right to participate in keeping the workplace safe and healthy, and the right to refuse tasks they believe to be unusually dangerous.

Through the years amendments have been made in the spirit of the first act, for example Saskatchewan was the first province to provide protection from harassment in the workplace in the legislation, and the first province to require that publicly owned buildings containing asbestos are required to be registered and the information readily available online. As recent as January 1, 2022, amendments came into force that clarifies the definition of harassment includes any unwelcome action of a sexual nature. In addition, independent contractors, students and volunteers are included in the definition of workers protected from any form of harassment. 

"The world we live and work in is quite different than it was 50 years ago," Morgan said. "What hasn't changed though is our commitment to reducing and eliminating the number of serious injuries, illnesses and fatalities that occur in our workplaces and we can do this by having legislation that meets the needs of those it governs. Everyone benefits when workers come home safely at the end of the day and by working together, we can ensure that Saskatchewan continues to be a great place to work and invest."


For more information, contact:

Gladys Wasylenchuk
Labour Relations and Workplace Safety
Phone: 306-787-2411
Cell: 306-519-8411


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