MRO Magazine

Creative sentencing helps Alberta families affected by workplace tragedy

Edmonton, AB -- The most recent amendments to Alberta's Occupational Health and Safety laws -- enacted in January 2...

Health & Safety

February 6, 2008
By MRO Magazine

Edmonton, AB — The most recent amendments to Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety laws — enacted in January 2003 — have been applied to directly support families who have been affected by a workplace fatality or life-altering injury.

Section 41.1 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) of Alberta allows judges to impose innovative sentences — any condition they consider appropriate — to those convicted of OHS offences. Penalties have included directing monies from fines for education or improvement in industry standards as well as donating to not-for-profit organizations to help victims and prevent future fatalities and injuries.

In August 2007 an Alberta company was fined for failing to protect a worker who received a life-altering injury in a manufacturing incident. As part of the creative sentence, $95,000 was directed to Threads of Life, a national charitable organization that supports families along their journey of healing who have suffered from a workplace fatality, life-altering injury or occupational disease.

The creative sentencing monies resulting from the August decision will support the development and distribution of two resource booklets for Alberta families directly affected by a traumatic workplace fatality or a life-altering injury. Threads of Life is also working on coordinating a three-day forum for families affected by workplace tragedy to network, share their experiences and learn healthy coping skills along their journey of healing. The family forum will be held May 23 -25, 2008, in Edmonton. For details, visit


“No amount of money will ever bring back a loved one. But every family I have ever met says they want to do something in memory of their loved one. All they want is for this to never happen to another family ever again, and creative sentencing helps make that happen,” says Shirley Hickman, executive director of Threads of Life, the Association for Workplace Tragedy Family Support.

In Alberta over the past five years, creative sentencing has resulted in close to $2 million being directed to charitable groups that support programs to help prevent similar occurrences.