The Latest in Employment Law: A Stewart McKelvey Newsletter – Amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, SNS 1996, c 7
On April 26, 2017, the Government of Nova Scotia announced that amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, which were passed in May of 2016, will officially come into force as of June 12, 2017.
Overview of the Amendments
These amendments have 2 key components that employers will need to be aware of:
1) Incident reporting – the amendments better define when, how, and what incidents must be reported. The highlights are as follows:
A) Triggering Injuries
The Director must be notified as soon as possible (but no later than 24 hours) after a workplace fire, flood or accident that causes:
• a fracture of the skull, spine, pelvis, arm, leg, ankle, wrist or a major part of the hand or foot,
• loss or amputation of a leg, arm, hand, foot, finger or toe,
• a third degree burn to any part of the body,
• loss of sight in one or both eyes,
• asphyxiation or poisoning,
• any injury that requires the admission to hospital, or
• any injury that endangers the life,
of an employee, unless the injury can be treated by immediate first aid or medical treatment and the person can return to work the following day.
B) Triggering Events
Whether injury occurs or not, the Director must be notified as soon as possible (but no later than 24 hours) after:
• an accidental explosion,
• a major structural failure or collapse of a building or other structure,
• a major release of a hazardous substance, or
• a fall from a work area in circumstances where fall protection is required by the regulations,
2) Repeat offenders – the amendments give the Director additional authority over those who put people at risk of serious injury or death by repeatedly contravening safety requirements or failing to comply with Orders from the Division.
A) Threshold Conditions
The new powers set out below can only be exercised where the following conditions exist:
• A person has “repeatedly” (more than once in the last 3 years) contravened the Act or Regulations or failed to comply with an order made pursuant thereto;
• the contravention or failure posed a risk of serious injury (“injury that endangers life or causes permanent injury”)
B) Orders for Information
Where the Director has reasonable grounds for believing that a repeat offender may contravene the Act or regulations or fail to comply with an order thereunder in a similar manner in future, the Director may order that person to provide details regarding the nature and location of future work activities.
These orders for information expire 3 months after issuing but, so long as an order is renewed before its expiry, there is no limit on the number of renewals.
C) Broader Stop-Work Orders
Where an order is made to stop work or prevent access to a worksite and an officer has reasonable grounds for believing that the same or similar source of danger exists or will exist at another of the repeat offender’s workplaces, an officer may (subject to the Director’s approval) make an order:
• stopping work at another of the employer’s workplaces (or any part thereof);
• requiring that another of the employer’s workplaces be cleared of persons and isolated by barricades, fencing or other suitable means until the danger or hazard is removed; or
• prohibiting the employer from starting work at another workplace.
Where the Director has reasonable grounds for believing that a repeat offender is likely to contravene the Act or regulations or fail to comply with an order thereunder, the Director may apply the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia for an injunction to:
• restrain the person from committing or continuing the contravention;
• require the person to comply with the order;
• restrain the person from carrying on an industry or an activity for a specific period or until such time as a specific event occurs.
The full-text of Bill 165 can be found here.
What this Means for Employers
In terms of accident reporting, the range of incidents and injuries that require notification of the Director have been expanded, and the timeline for notification has been shortened to 24 hours from as much as 7 days under the current Act. However, the amendments have also removed any uncertainty resulting from the existing Act’s failure to define “serious injury”.
Regarding repeat offenders, while compliance with OHSA legislation and resulting orders has always been important, these changes raise the stakes for any compliance failures by extending the reach of the Division to other worksites and activities and the introducing the potential for ongoing disclosure requirements.
The foregoing is intended for general information only. If you have any questions about how this may affect your business, please contact a member of our Labour & Employment practice group.
By Koren Thomson, John Samms, and Matthew Raske The Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal has held that the Information and Privacy Commissioner for this province (the “Commissioner”) does not have the authority to order…Read More
By Perlene Morrison, K.C. Municipalities are required to pass code of conduct bylaws in accordance with section 107 of the Municipal Government Act (the “MGA”). Subsection 107(1) of the MGA specifically states that a municipality’s…Read More
By Sheila Mecking and Kathleen Starke On August 23, 2023, the Ontario Superior Court (“ONSC”) upheld a complaints decision which ordered a psychologist to complete a continuing education or remedial program regarding professionalism in public…Read More
By Dante Manna As we advised in a previous podcast, all federal employers with at least ten employees have been subject to the Pay Equity Act  (“PEA”) and Pay Equity Regulations  (“Regulations”) since…Read More
By Nancy Rubin, K.C. Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) recently published a draft of the Clean Electricity Regulations (CER). The proposed Regulations work toward achieving a net-zero electricity-generating sector, helping Canada become a net-zero…Read More
By Stephen Penney & Matthew Raske In the recent decision Index Investment Inc. v. Paradise (Town), 2023 NLSC 112, the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador validated the Town of Paradise’s decision to rezone lands…Read More
By Sara Espinal Henao Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) has announced a promising new temporary measure that allows foreign workers to study for a longer duration without a study permit, opening the door for…Read More
By Brendan Sheridan The Government of Canada recently announced a number of aggressive immigration measures to help attract top talent to Canada in high-growth industries in an effort to fuel innovation and drive emerging technologies.…Read More
By Daniela Bassan, K.C. All stakeholders in the legal profession, including litigators, have a shared interest in promoting environmental, social, and governance (ESG) pathways towards building a greener society. It is crucial for litigators to…Read More
By Kimberly Bungay and Colton Smith Since June of 2019, corporations formed under the Canada Business Corporations Act have been required to prepare and maintain a register of individuals with significant control (an “ISC Register”).…Read More