News Release Archive

Following is a text of Labour Minister Manning MacDonald's
message marking North American Occupational Health and Safety
Week, June 2-6:

Growing up in Cape Breton in the 1950s, I remember watching my
father going to work at the steel plant in Sydney. I never
worried that he wouldn't return home after a long day of work. It
was always understood that when his shift ended, he'd be home
with the family.

Fortunately, my father never did have an accident at work.
Unfortunately, not every Canadian can say the same.

In fact, according to 1995 statistics, about two people lose
their lives each day as a result of workplace injuries in Canada.
That's an annual total of about 700 Canadians who do not return
home at the end of their shift.

We are working to change those statistics. Nova Scotia is serious
about health and safety.

For example, this year Nova Scotians will start seeing the
benefits of a newer, better Occupational Health and Safety (OHS)
Act. It offers clearer direction to employers and better
protection to employees.

Last year, we introduced new regulations for scaffolding and
first aid. In the coming months, Nova Scotians will see improved
standards for general safety, as well as rules on violence in the
workplace -- a Nova Scotia first.

Also, for the first time, Nova Scotia has an Occupational Health
and Safety Appeal Panel. Now, when Nova Scotians don't agree with
a decision of an OHS officer, they can ask for a fair,
independent review.

But we know that rules alone are not enough. We have to change
the way we think about workplace health and safety. Occupational
Health and Safety Week is a time to renew our commitment to the

However, workplace health and safety must be a consideration 52
weeks a year. When it is, we all benefit.

Workers and their families have greater security and peace of

Employers benefit from a healthy and productive workforce, lower
workers' compensation rates and other costs, and a good
reputation for health and safety.

Working safely benefits our economy as well. It strengthens Nova
Scotia's reputation as a safe and attractive place to invest. It
gives us a competitive advantage.

This year Canada, Mexico and the United States will join forces
to promote the benefits of workplace health and safety during the
first North American OHS Week. This kind of international
co-operation encourages all of us to take action for positive

Workplace health and safety is truly everybody's business. We all
have rights and responsibilities -- whether we are employers,
employees, government, suppliers, building owners, contractors or
engineers. We should work on health and safety in our workplace
each and every week, each and every day.

At the Department of Labour, we are working to give employers and
employees the information and tools they need to build strong
health and safety programs. We have recently hired additional
staff to spread the health and safety message. We are here to
provide support and education and to step in with backup when a
workplace has problems it can't solve itself.

Inside the department we have changed, we have restructured. We
have a renewed commitment to training. We also have a new focus
on partnerships.

In the past two years, we have worked on many partnership
projects. The list includes the film, oil delivery, forest,
retail, hospitality and agricultural industries. We are also
working with the Nova Scotia Construction Safety Association to
provide training.

We are looking to the next century with Project Minerva, an
initiative designed to bring health and safety into the
classrooms of business and engineering schools. This will mean
good things for workers in the future.

We are we are also working with the Workers' Compensation Board,
businesses and employees to focus on problem areas. As a result,
the Halifax Shipyard has reduced accident frequency by 75 per
cent since 1993. Northwoodcare has also reduced workers'
compensation claims and lowered costs to $30,000 from $250,000.

It's clear -- working safely strengthens Nova Scotia's reputation
as a safe and attractive place for families to live, for people
to work, and for business to set up shop.

Truly, Nova Scotia is a great province. Working together, we can
make it even better. Working together, we can build healthier
workplaces, healthier businesses and a safer, healthier province
-- 52 weeks a year.


Contact: Jennifer MacIsaac
         Department of Labor

NOTE TO EDITORS: OHS related background information, story ideas
or interviews can be arranged by calling Jennifer MacIsaac.

trp                   May 28, 1997 - 3:30 p.m.