News Release Archive

Employees and employers in Nova Scotia will be supported by an
improved Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act, introduced
today by Labour Minister Guy Brown.

"Employers and employees will benefit from clearer, stronger
rules," said the minister. "The new act lays the groundwork for
improved health and safety in Nova Scotia. This will mean good
things for workers, families, employers and our economy."

The tabling of new legislation follows a lengthy period of
consultation. The new act is based on recommendations developed
by the Nova Scotia Occupational Health and Safety Advisory
Council over a three-year review period. This included extensive
consultation and participation from over 100 labour and
management volunteers.

The foundation of the OHS Act is internal responsibility -- the
concept that people inside the workplace are in the best position
to influence health and safety. The new act strengthens three
basic rights: the right to know, the right to refuse unsafe work,
and the right to participate in workplace health and safety

"Workplace health and safety must be everyone's concern. It is
important for Nova Scotians to have a solid understanding of
their rights and responsibilities," said Mr. Brown.

Last December the minister introduced draft legislation, allowing
Nova Scotians to become familiar with the changes and offer
feedback. The department sent out over 1,000 copies of the draft
bill and received 24 written submissions from various individuals
and groups such as the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, Private
Sector Employers' Council, Canadian Autoworkers Union and the
Canadian Manufacturers' Association.

"We have carefully considered the comments we received over the
past few months, and we have made some improvements to the
original draft," he said.

The original draft included the creation of a two-stream appeal
process for employers and employees to appeal decisions of OHS
officers. This process has been simplified and opened up to both
union and non-union workers.

The new act also gives greater support to employees who refuse
unsafe work. In an improvement to the draft version, officers
will now have the ability to order the reinstatement of a
dismissed worker, the payment of lost wages, the removal of a
reprimand, or any other action needed for compliance. Currently,
these decisions are made through an adjudication or grievance

In keeping with public feedback, penalties will rise from a
maximum of $10,000 to $250,000. Maximum imprisonment will
increase from one year to two years. The new act also allows for
creative sentencing in addition to regular penalties, with the
clarification that the combination does not exceed the maximum
fine level.

The new act paves the way for OHS officers to use summary offence
tickets. This would improve the division's ability to enforce
rules in a way that makes the best use of time and resources.

The bill also focuses on early training and prevention by
phasing-in the duty to teach OHS principles in trade schools and
community colleges.

"Government's goal is to make Nova Scotia a good, accident-free
place for employees to work and for employers to set up shop. The
new OHS Act is an important step toward that goal. It puts Nova
Scotia on the right path to a safer, healthier future."

The vast majority of the new act will come into effect on
January 1, 1997. The Department of Labour will be organizing
information sessions throughout the province to explain the new
Act to Nova Scotians.


NOTE TO EDITORS: For more detail on the new OHS Act, please refer
to the summary backgrounder. It is available by phoning
902-424-4492 or 1-800-670-4357 (toll free).

Contact: Jennifer MacIsaac  902-424-4680 or 902-424-3219

         Jim LeBlanc        902-424-8477

trp                   Apr. 12, 1996 - 11:25 a.m.