According to provincial auditors, Nova Scotia employers have a lot of work to do if they’re going to make provincial workers safer, especially when it comes to following up on violations. Auditor general Jacques Lapointe noted that the Labour Department could do a better job of prevention by placing greater focus on enforcing work order compliance.
The auditors discovered that, during the period between April 2012 and March 2013, a total of 10 summary offence tickets had been issued in 1,228 cases where workplaces failed to comply with safety orders in a timely manner.
The Labour Department did respond to the report, claiming that 95 percent of employers eventually complied with the orders. They also noted that they used administrative penalties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act as a method for forcing employers to comply with safety orders. They did admit, however, that they had to be more consistent when it comes to enforcing the rules.
LaPointe also noted that only 27 of the 100 workplaces with the worst safety records were targeted for inspections during the period examined by auditors. According to the report, the current system does identify higher-risk workplaces, but then it fails to create a specific inspection plan for the year. Because of this tendency, the auditors’ report notes that many of the more dangerous workplaces in Nova Scotia fail to receive proper attention.
In addition to the auditors, a number of labour groups have also weighed in, demanding that the province hire more inspectors and pay more attention to the most dangerous workplaces. They note that, at current staffing levels, inspectors are stretched thin, and it’s not possible to do after-accident inspections and also perform pre-emptive inspections.