NDP

New Penalty System Focused on Worker Safety

July 29, 2013


The province wants to get tougher on employers who put workers at risk, and promote education and prevention for less serious infractions. 

This means fines for employers who break serious workplace safety rules or repeat offenders. For less serious infractions, inspectors will educate employers and employees to help ensure compliance with health and safety regulations.

Labour and Advanced Education Minister Frank Corbett today, July 29, released a discussion paper that outlines proposed solutions for administrative penalties, which are fines for employers and employees who break safety laws. 

“We are committed to protecting this province’s workers,” said Mr. Corbett. “Hundreds of Nova Scotians have given us great ideas on how to improve the administrative penalty system. 

“They want us to focus more on prevention, while sending a clear message to employers that there is zero tolerance for rule breakers who risk the lives and health of workers, or who are repeat offenders.” 

The province launched a review of administrative penalties system after employers said that fines were issued inconsistently and, sometimes, unfairly. The review led to an approach that ensures proper education of workplace safety for employers and employees and assigns penalties for the right types of offences. 

“We are very pleased to see the proactive stance of government on workplace safety in Nova Scotia,” says Rick Clarke, president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour. “Not only do we now have stronger workplace health and safety regulations and enforcement, but we also now have a strong emphasis on public education, which is key.”

Employers will have a clearer understanding of consequences. A structured fine schedule will outline penalty amounts for infractions and how penalties will escalate with repeat offences. 

“As co-chair of the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education’s Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Council, I represent employers across the province,” said Harris McNamara, health and safety director at Emera. “Employers are depending on me to ensure their voice is heard. From what I’ve seen to date, it looks as though government has listened and that the system will be improved to become more fair and consistent.”

The new system also proposes a streamlined appeal process for compliance orders and administrative penalties managed by the Labour Relations Board. 

The deadline for comments on the discussion paper is Sept. 26.