Minister Accepts Report On Department's OHS Division

Department of Labour (to Sept. 00)

April 16, 1998 1:30 PM

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:

- 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.

-30-

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.