Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine (June 2011)

Nova Scotia is upping the ante in its bid to enhance workplace health and safety by doubling the maximum fine for related infractions.

Amendments tabled on April 14, 2011, will see the top penalty double from $250,000 to $500,000 for any subsequent offence under Nova Scotia’s OH&S Act within five years or for any offence involving a work-related death, notes a statement from the Ministry of Labour and Advanced Education in Halifax.

The maximum safety fines for a first offence remains at $250,000.

“Increasing fines for those who break our health and safety laws sends a message that more must be done to reduce injuries, illnesses and deaths at work,” says labour minister Marilyn More.

The amendments reflect a recommendation by members of the Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Council.

Anything that “places the priority on the important issue of workplace safety is something that we see as a positive evolution of our safety culture,” says Steve MacDonald, acting director of communications for the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) of Nova Scotia in Halifax.

The penalty review was partly spurred by the realization that Nova Scotia had fallen behind the trend for maximum fine levels in other jurisdictions in the country. “We believe it is time to review our fines, compare them to other jurisdictions, and adjust them accordingly,” says Kevin Finch, communications advisor for the provincial labour department.

“We think we found a fair balance that sends a strong message to workplaces and protects workers without putting an undue financial burden on our business community,” Finch notes.

My opinion

When I first read this article, I was always wondering when some of the other provinces were going to see the need to increase the fines for occupational health and safety issues. I was glad to see that the province of Nova Scotia saw fit to make the necessary changes. Mind you, since the Westray accident, in 1992 at New Glasgow, I could not help but think that these changes may have happened sooner. In fact, all of the provinces should have seen the writing on the wall and worked hard towards this conclusion. Ontario has finally, re-written the Fall Protection requirements and have created the ‘Working at Heights’ legislation that is to become the standard as of April 01, 2015.

Please ensure that your province does not wait until a death occurs to create the appropriate safety legislation.

Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Due Diligence’ and ‘Standard Operating Procedures’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at info@hrsgroup.com

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

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