Workers' Compensation Safety Board of Nova Scotia

Workers encouraged to be safe this summer (May 27/15)

(From the Department of Labour and Advanced Education)

Nova Scotians are reminded to make safety a top priority on the job this summer. 

Sharing information, raising awareness and checking compliance with workplace safety rules were the goals of a provincewide inspection blitz conducted last week of almost 80 residential and commercial businesses.

Labour and Advanced Education Minister Kelly Regan says that doing blitzes every few months is a way to help educate businesses and workers about their roles and responsibilities when it comes to safety.

"More Nova Scotians, especially young people, start new jobs during the summer months and they need to know about workplace safety rules," said Ms. Regan. "These blitzes aren't just about writing orders or tickets, they're about making sure workers and employers are knowledgeable about safety and know where to go for support." 

Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency staff accompanied occupational health and safety officers on the blitz to promote proper training and certification in the trades. 

"Nova Scotians who hire a tradesperson in the compulsory trades need to make sure they have the proper qualifications or are a registered apprentice," said CEO of the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency, Marjorie Davison. "If a worker does not have the proper certification, they could make mistakes and put both themselves and others at risk." 

Results of the blitz included:

-- 18 more inspections than the original target of 60
-- 25 inspections involving young workers
-- 37 orders issued for fall protection and scaffolding
-- 16 additional compliance orders for things like not having the proper safety documentation on site
-- 61 warnings for things like not having the proper first aid kit on site
-- improvements on residential construction sites

"When you hear about officers coming to a worksite to do an inspection, usually people get their backs up. But, at the end of the day these officers are just making sure we are working safely, that we are aware of the rules and we have the proper training to do the jobs right," said Dwayne Landry, a construction electrician apprentice. "I have to take responsibility for my own safety on the worksite, but it is good to know that someone has my back if things aren't operating the way they should."

In addition to blitzes, the department has undertaken a variety of other initiatives to ensure workplace safety is a top priority. The department is hosting a live twitter chat with the senior director of Occupational Health and Safety, Scott Nauss. The live chat will provide workers, employers, parents and others with the opportunity to have their safety questions and concerns addressed, on the spot. 

Other initiatives underway to improve safety include:

-- more targeted inspections of high-risk companies with poor safety records
-- more outreach and education in schools are helping more young workers learn about the importance of safety in the workplace 
-- increased engagement and education in the fishing sector has resulted in more fishermen wearing personal flotation devices and  making better decisions based on safe weather conditions
-- the creation of a Safe at Sea Alliance to develop an industry-led, long-term Fishing Safety Action Plan 
-- the hiring of a dedicated occupational health and safety prosecutor and additional safety inspectors
-- a toolkit has been developed for small- and medium-sized businesses to ensure they have the resources they need to make better safety decisions for their workplaces 

"Initiatives like the inspection blitz help build on the progress being made with the Workplace Safety Strategy, and we congratulate our safety partners on its success," said Stuart MacLean, CEO of Workers' Compensation Board of Nova Scotia. "We all have to work together if we want to make Nova Scotia the safest place to work in Canada." 

So far in 2015, there have been four acute and six chronic workplace fatalities. One is too many. 

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