Local 1 – DOJ Court Services and Sheriff Services OHS Safety Issues

It has come to the attention of the union that a flood occurred at your workplace, the Sydney Justice Center. It is important you know that your Union has been actively working with your Employer and the Occupational Health and Safety Consultants at the Public Service Commission (PSC). Your Employee Relations Officer Gina Boyd met with the PSC last week, who has committed to check on your internal reporting system and advise what OHS safety issues have been logged within your reporting system, as well as to touch base with your JOSH committee regarding how progression is being communicated to the members.

Dustin Rioux, NSGEU’s Occupational Health and Safety Officer and your ERO are scheduling a follow up meeting regarding issues being brought forward, and what path has been taken to address the issues, along with ensuring communication is being provided to you. In the interim, it is important you follow the OHS Internal Responsibility System (IRS) within your workplace. Here is some information to further help you in this:

If an employee has a safety concern, under the act they must:

  • Immediately report it to their supervisor. Can be done in person but followed up with the OHS Occurrence report
  • If not satisfied with the response of the supervisor, they then must refer the matter to their JOHSC
  • If not satisfied at the committee level or no response at all, an employee must then move the complaint to the Dept. of Labour

If, however an employee has reasonable grounds that the act/work being tasked to them will likely endanger their health and safety, or the health and safety of others under Occupational Health and Safety Act. they must take the following steps:

  • The employee may cease doing the work and immediately notify their supervisor of the concern and wait to hear the supervisor’s response.
  • If the employee is not satisfied with the supervisor’s response, they shall refer the matter to the Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee (JOHSC)
  • If the employee is dissatisfied with the decision of the JOHSC they shall refer the matter to the Department of Labour for investigation.

The employer does not have the lawful right to end an employee’s work refusal. An employee is not required to resume doing the work they’ve deemed to be unsafe until one of three things occur:

  • The employee is satisfied that changes are made which make the work safe to resume.
  • The JOHSC unanimously decides the work refusal does not have merit
  • The Department of Labour investigator determines the work is safe

Here is a blurb from the Dept. of Labour:

The right to refuse is an individual right, for you as the individual to exercise. Our role is to try and educate you on the process and support you should you choose to utilize this right. If you are interested in further information on the right to refuse process, please see: https://novascotia.ca/lae/healthandsafety/docs/YourRightsandResp-en.pdf

Employees follow up with the supervisor in writing on a refusal and ‘cc a manager and Dustin Rioux, OHS Officer here at NSGEU. In that email, an employee should identify they were exercising your right to refuse unsafe work under section 43 of the act. In addition to the refusal, they should also attach an OHS occurrence form with the unsafe work they refused to do and what it would take to mitigate the work to end the refusal.

If you have further questions or concerns, please email Gina Boyd, ERO at: gboyd@nsgeu.ca or Dustin Rioux, OHS Officer at: drioux@nsgeu.ca

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