News release

Minister Accepts Report On Department's OHS Division

Labour Minister Russell MacKinnon has responded positively to a review of the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Division of the Department of Labour.

"My department will act with dispatch in responding to the report's 16 recommendations for strengthening the division," Mr. MacKinnon said today.

A result of the Westray inquiry, the study was commissioned in January by Justice Peter Richard of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court. It was conducted by Ian Plummer, retired provincial co-ordinator of mining for the province of Ontario.

Mr. Plummer reviewed the division's internal responsibility system, staff competency, training programs, internal and external communications, performance management systems and organizational structure.

Over the course of his study, Mr. Plummer interviewed division managers, staff members and officials of similar organizations in other jurisdictions.

"Overall, it is my opinion that the division has substantially improved its services and operations over the past four to five years," he said. "The culture of the organization is focused on the values necessary to deliver quality occupational health and safety services to the workplace of the province."

The study found that a revised Occupational Health and Safety Act introduced in 1996 is now "consistent with, or ahead of, most others in Canada" and empowers OHS officers to carry out their responsibilities. The report also pointed out that the division has made great strides in achieving an organizational culture comparable to that of other high-performing OHS organizations in the country.

Mr. Plummer's recommendations include:

  • increasing personnel resources of the division
  • more training and personal development for officers
  • implementing programs to enhance organizational pride and teamwork
  • developing a work-planning system for officers
  • improving communications between officers and stakeholders
  • forming a strategic partnership with the Workers' Compensation Board to more effectively respond to workers' health and safety issues

Mr. MacKinnon said all of the recommendations will be assessed and action will be taken as soon as possible to implement the plan. "While the division has made impressive progress, this report gives us a clear plan to ensure workers their Occupational Health and Safety Division is determined to serve them as effectively as possible."

NOTE: The following is intended for use by broadcast media.

Labour Minister Russell MacKinnon is responding positively to a review of his department's Occupational Health and Safety Division.

He says his department will act -- in his words -- "with dispatch" to the report's 16 recommendations.

The study was conducted by Ian Plummer, retired provincial co-ordinator of mining for Ontario.

He says that overall, the division has "substantially" improved its services and operations in the past four to five years.

Recommendations include:<br/>- more training for officers - programs to enhance organizational pride and teamwork - and a strategic partnership with the Workers' Compensation Board to respond more effectively to workers' health and safety issues.

The study is a result of the Westray inquiry. It was commissioned in January by Justice Peter Richard of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

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Contact:

Russell MacKinnon
Minister of Labour Office: 902-424-6647 Home: 902-567-1490 Cell: 902-497-5768

NOTE TO EDITORS: Copies of the report are available at Communications Nova Scotia, One Government Place, 1700 Granville Street, Ground Floor, Halifax, and at the Museum of Industry, 147 North Foord St., Stellarton.

ngr                   Apr. 16, 1998               1:30 p.m.