Health and Safety

Safe workplaces are created by people who care. Your health and safety in the workplace is protected by Nova Scotia's Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations. We are a key part of Nova Scotia's Workplace Safety and Insurance System. Our staff promote, coordinate, administer, and enforce occupational health and safety for you.
Staff Listing by Branch and Region

OH&S Positions: From time to time the OH&S Division has various positions that need to be filled. As with all Government positions these will be posted by the Nova Scotia Public Service Commission on Career Beacon.

Our Goal: To establish and enforce clear standards to reduce occupational injury and illness.

Contact us:

General Inquiries and Reporting
Toll-free: 1-800-952-2687 (24 hours) Note: this number valid only from 902 area code
Halifax Metro: 902-424-5400 (Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. only)

Mailing Address:
OHS Division
5151 Terminal Road
PO Box 697
Halifax, NS
B3J 2T8

Feature Items

Transition from WHMIS 1988 to WHMIS 2015

The federal Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) legislation was amended February 11, 2015 to align with the Globally Harmonized System for Classifying and Chemicals (GHS). No changes to provincial WHMIS have been made. Nova Scotia is reviewing its Workplace Hazardous Material Information System Regulations to be consistent with the federal legislation.

During the transition period referenced in the new federal legislation in Gazette II., suppliers of "hazardous products" will be allowed to comply with either the old system (WHMIS 1988) or the new (WHMIS 2015). All suppliers must provide product information in compliance with WHMIS 2015 by June 2018.

Due to the supplier transition provisions contained in the federal legislation Nova Scotia employers must proceed as follows:

  1. If there are no products with WHMIS 2015 safety data sheets (SDSs) and labels in the workplace, the employer continues to comply with WHMIS 1988 requirements
  2. If the employer receives a product that has an SDS and label complying with WHMIS 2015, they must comply with the WHMIS 2015 requirements. This includes, but is not limited to:
    1. Training under Section 4 of WHMIS including content consistent with WHMIS 2015 for SDSs and labels for workers who may be exposed to hazardous products.
    2. Acquiring up to date SDS’s. The employer is not required to ensure the SDS is within three years of its latest revision as this requirement has been removed in WHMIS 2015 for suppliers. However, since suppliers must update SDSs as soon as significant information becomes available, an employer, must ensure they are provided with the most current version of the supplier SDS each time a hazardous product is purchased.
  3. If the employer receives a product that complies with WHMIS 2015, and their employees are not yet trained on WHMIS 2015, they may store the product until such time as they have completed the WHMIS 2015 training as per section 3(2) of the current WHMIS regulations.

Where an employer has products that meet both WHMIS 1988 and WHMIS 2015 in the workplace, the employer must comply with both systems concurrently. This includes ensuring workers have either Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS’s) or SDS’s readily available, hazardous products are labeled and employees are educated and trained. Training regarding safe use, storage, handling and disposal is the same in both old WHMIS 1988 and the new WHMIS 2015. The differences in education will be around the content and significance of the label and new information on SDS’s.

A generic worker training course is available (free to the first 100,000) online from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. For information on this and for other resources on WHMIS 2015, go to the National WHMIS webpage.

Should you have any questions, you may wish to contact the Occupational Hygienist for your region by calling 902-424-5400.

For additional Information please review the WHMIS 2015 FAQ Sheet

Buyer Beware - Aggressive Sales Calls from Private Providers of Workplace Health and Safety Training and Posting Requirements

The Occupational Health and Safety Division periodically receives calls from employers who are themselves receiving aggressive, high-pressure and sometimes misleading calls from private providers of workplace health and safety training specifically WHMIS, safety poster requirements, on-line first aid training, as well as Violence in the Workplace Regulations training requirements.

Regarding WHMIS the private provider caller implies the need for annual training and/or posting of particular safety posters to be in compliance with the Nova Scotia Occupational Health and Safety Legislation. For sales calls about on-line first aid training the caller states that all persons at the workplace need first aid training. For sales calls on the Violence in the Workplace regulations the caller is implying that training is required. The requirements on all of these items may vary depending on the company type and size.

If you have any reservations and/or questions about what is required to be in compliance with any type of OHS training, please contact the OHS Division at 1-800-952-2687.

Earlier this year, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) also issued a warning about the aggressive sales tactics by some training providers. In some cases, it found companies were giving the impression they represented the government, and were indicating the training was required or endorsed by the provincial workplace jurisdiction.

Employers who wish to file a complaint on the tactics of a company soliciting products and training services can contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.

Smoke Free Places Act has been updated

The Nova Scotia Smoke-Free Places Act was updated May 31, 2015 and the changes have the potential to affect how Occupational Health and Safety officers can enforce this Act. The changes will expand the Smoke-Free Places Act to cover electronic cigarettes and water pipes such as hookahs. The definition of "smoke" was been expanded to include all forms of smoke from any device that burns tobacco or any other substance. “Smoke” means smoke, inhale or exhale smoke from, burn, carry, hold or otherwise have control over a lit or heated cigarette, cigar, pipe, water pipe, electronic cigarette or device that burns or heats tobacco or another substance that is intended to be smoked or inhaled. Enforcing the Smoke-Free Places Act will now include traditional cigarettes and cigars, electronic cigarettes and hookahs

Message from Mr. Duff Montgomerie Deputy Minister LAE regarding Workplace Health and Safety Regulations (WHSRs) Phase II

The Department of Labour and Advanced Education remains committed to listening to stakeholders and eliciting their input. We are reviewing all of the feedback received from our sessions last Fall in order to determine next steps and to ensure we get it right. Please see the attached letter from Deputy Minister Montgomerie for more details - Letter from DM Montgomerie

FYI - CCOHS NS OHS E-learning training available again

We are pleased to announce that the CCOHS OHS e-learning training courses, sponsored by Labour and Advanced Education, are now available for registration. NS residents are able to register for up to 6 courses per year per individual. These courses do not need to be taken all at the same time and may be taken throughout the year. To register for courses please use the 'Training" link on the left side of this page, or the link at the bottom of this page.

Progress Update on the Workplace Safety Strategy

The Workplace Safety Strategy is a five year plan (2013-2017) aimed at making Nova Scotia workplaces safer. Currently there is a progress report available. The Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia has recently approved the Strategic Plan 2016-2020. The new plan sets a vision for significant, needed change to modernize its organization. The details of the 2016-2020 plan is now available.

*UPDATE* - Time Limited Offer from CCOHS on changes to labelling of hazardous products

There is still time to take advantage of the e-course developed by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) to help educate workers on upcoming legislative changes to Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) affecting them. There are still approximately 8,000 of the original 100,000 spots available across Canada to register. These won't last, so take advantage of your free registration at WHMIS (After GHS) for Workers.

UPDATE: Occupational Health and Safety Act Convictions

Table with information on convictions under the Occupational Health and Safety Act from the past five years, including the convicted employer or person, the offence and the penalty, has been updated to March 31, 2015. Note: the table has been amended to include a brief summary description of the incident.

Lone Workers and Occupational Health and Safety Legislation an Information Guide

The OHS Division has received a number of calls regarding the legality of workers working alone. The Division has prepared a Lone Workers Information Guide to clarify the occupational health and safety requirements regarding working alone. While there are no OHS regulations that do not allow working alone, except in very specific cases such as confined space entry where an attendant is required, there are several OHS regulations that would apply to lone workers.

Bed Bugs - an OHS Information Guide

The OHS Division has received several questions regarding bed bugs in the workplace and what the possible OHS requirements may be. While there are no specific occupational health and safety regulatory requirements addressing bed bugs, there are some general requirements, similar to any potential health and safety hazard in the workplace, that would need to be met. The Bed Bugs - OHS Information Sheet outlines what hazard bed bugs pose, how to address the issues, general OHS requirements that apply and links to information resources.

CSA Standards used in OHS legislation now accessible through CSA Communities

The CSA Group has changed the link to their OHS View Access Site. The OHS View Access Site allows visitors to view OHS Standards referenced in federal, provincial and territorial OHS regulations. Originally developed in 2008, in collaboration with government OHS departments, the latest version now includes a search function allowing users to more easily locate the standard they are looking for, as well as including new references. Note: our link in the top right hand corner of the page has been updated to the new site - if you had book marked this page you may need to update your book mark.

Information on changes to Occupational Health and Safety Regulations

  • Frequently Asked Questions: New and Revised OHS Regulations. A 15 page pdf document containing answers to questions regarding changes to OHS requirements resulting from the newly enacted Workplace Health and Safety Regulations and amended Occupational Safety General Regulations
  • Summary of Changes to OH&S Regulations. A five page pdf file of recent amendments to the OSGR and newly enacted Workplace Health and Safety Regulations. This information is provided for your convenience only and cannot be relied on in place of the regulations; it is not exhaustive, not all changes are identified here.
  • "Consolidated Regs" a pdf file of the PowerPoint presentation given at the recently held (last week of May) public information sessions

Hazard Alert:


Occupational Health and Safety Education Trust Fund

Established in 2001, the OHS Education Trust Fund’s basic objective is to increase awareness about occupational health and safety through education, training, promotion and related activities. To view criteria for funding and down load application forms go to the OHS Education Trust Fund page.