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Health & Safety

Occupational Health & Safety

Nova Scotia’s number of workplace deaths have more than doubled over the past five years, according to figures from the provincial Labour Department. Between 2007 and 2011, 123 employees died due to occupational hazards or from chronic illnesses caused by their work or other health issues. There were 12 workplace deaths in 2007, while 27 workers lost their lives in 2011.

If you are experiencing any fear for your health or well-being at work, and you would like to speak to someone immediately, please contact us at 424-4063, 1-877-556-7438, or inquiry@nsgeu.ca.

You can also contact the Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Workforce Development’s 24-hour health and safety hotline at 1-800-9LABOUR (1-800-952-2687).

Three Basic OH&S Rights

Under the Nova Scotia Occupational Health and Safety Act, all employees in Nova Scotia have three basic rights:

  • The Right to Know: Employees have the right to know information that could affect their health or safety in the workplace.
  • The Right to Refuse Unsafe Work: Employees have the right to refuse any unsafe or unhealthy work if they believe it will endanger them or someone else. They must be paid for their time while the situation is reviewed.
  • The Right to Participate: Employees have the right to take an active role in safety in their workplace.
    • In a workplace with between five and 19 employees, this means having an employee Safety Representative (somebody chosen by all employees to meet regularly with the employer to address OH&S concerns)
    • In a workplace with 20 or more employees, this means having a Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee (JOHSC) which must meet regularly and which also must be comprised of at least 50 per cent employees.

Internal Responsibility System

The Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Workforce Development adheres to a policy it calls the Internal Responsibility System, which means that, while managers and supervisors have significant responsibility for workplace safety, individual employees also share in that responsibility.

Employers are responsible for:

  • Ensuring the health and safety of persons at or near the workplace;
  • Making sure all equipment is safe and properly maintained;
  • Providing safety instruction and training;
  • Making sure employees are aware of hazards in the workplace;
  • Ensuring employees have the proper safety and personal protective equipment to do their job safely, and that they know how to use it;
  • Cooperating with the “Safety Representative” (in smaller workplaces) or the Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee (in larger workplaces);
  • Cooperating with the Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Workforce Development;
  • Complying with the Nova Scotia Occupational Health and Safety Act and all of its regulations.

Employees are responsible for:

  • Protecting their own health and safety and that of others;
  • Cooperating with the employer and other employees regarding safety;
  • Properly using protective devices, equipment, and clothing;
  • Consulting with their Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee or Safety Representative and complying with the Nova Scotia Occupational Health and Safety Act and regulations.

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