Nova Scotia gets tough on offending employers

Penalty system would introduce stiffer fines for workplace safety violations, promote education and prevention training
||Last Updated: 07/30/2013

Employers in Nova Scotia will be facing strict consequences if they put their workers at risk, according to the latest penalty system proposed by the province’s labour minister.

On July 29, Frank Corbett, minister of labour and advanced education, announced a new penalty system that sees tougher fines for workplace safety infractions, as well as education and prevention programs for less serious offences.

In his report, Corbett recommended the use of administrative penalties as a means to discourage employers from breaking the labour code and health and safety practices. That means employers or workers found guilty of breaking workplace safety laws will be subjected to hefty fines — which will be even heftier for repeat offenders.

For smaller infractions, the province will pursue prevention and education programs, which Corbett said is high on the industry’s radar.

“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 move was lauded by 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,” said Rick Clarke, president of the labour federation.

As part of the new system, offending workers and their bosses will be able to appeal compliance orders and administrative penalties through Nova Scotia’s labour relations board.

The labour ministry will be taking comments on the proposed penalty system until Sept. 26.

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