14 charged under OHS act in Nova Scotia so far this year

Province releases stats from first half of 2010

A total of 14 parties in Nova Scotia have been charged with 41 infractions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act this year, according to figures released by the province.

The charges range from failing to provide information to an occupational health and safety officer to not taking reasonable measures to ensure the health and safety of people at a workplace.

"Last year, 32 workers did not come home and 7,200 loss-time injuries were reported to the Workers' Compensation Board. These numbers are unacceptable," said Labour and Workforce Development Minister Marilyn More. "We want workplace health and safety to be forever on the minds of each and every person."

More acknowledged that 2009 was the first time in a decade that loss-time injuries fell below 8,000 but, she said, there is still room for improvement.

"Any workplace death or injury is one too many," said Ms. More.

As of June 30, the department had been advised of six workplace deaths during the first half of this year.

"Our efforts to reduce workplace injuries and fatalities include a mix of education, rewards and enforcement," said Jim LeBlanc, executive director of the department's Occupational Health and Safety Division.

Starting in September, occupational health and safety will be part of the Grade 9 public school curriculum.

In January, the department introduced administrative penalties to reinforce to employers and employees that they share a responsibility to keep workplaces safe. When a provincial health and safety officer issues orders, an administrator determines whether a fine should be imposed. The fine reflects the level of authority the person holds on the work site, past convictions or penalties, and the potential for injury.

As of June 11, there were 230 administrative penalties issued, ranging from $100 to $2,000. Of those, 216 penalties were levied against employers, eight against employees, and six against owners, supervisors, self-employed people, contractors and service providers.

This year's prosecutions and convictions include:

•On May 31, 10 charges were laid against RMSEnergy Ltd., Rotor Mechanical Services Ltd., and three owners and employees of the companies, related to the deaths of Kyle Elliott and Mandi Balagot in July 2009.

•On May 7, Divco Canada Limited and Southeast Drywall Ltd. pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that employees were familiar with health and safety hazards at the workplace. In September 2007, an employee fell through an unsecured skylight opening and sustained critical injuries.

Divco was fined $18,700 and Southeast Drywall was fined $12,600. The fines include a judicial order for each company to contribute $8,000 to the Minister's Education Trust Fund.

•On April 14, charges were laid against Sepracor Canada (Nova Scotia) Limited, after an investigation into the Oct. 7, 2008 death of employee Roland Daigle.

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