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N.S. Labour Federation calls for increased enforcement following workplace fatalities

By Evan Taylor Feb 26, 2024 | 4:35 PM

Pop & Zebra / Unsplash

In the past week, there have been two workplace fatalities in Nova Scotia, the first at the Irving Shipyard and the second involving a worker on a fishing boat owned by Clearwater Seafoods.

Those fatalities have prompted the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour (NSFL) to call for increased enforcement on labour safety, specifically calling for more criminal investigations.

NSFL President Danny Cavaghnah says the legislation was adopted 20 years ago to pursue companies found to be negligent but it’s rarely used. “The Westray legislation was introduced 20 years ago and since then we’ve seen less than 30 cases pursued under it,” said Cavagnah

The legislation he’s referring to was introduced following the tragedy at Westray mine where an underground┬ámethane explosion in 1992, killed all 26 miners working underground at the time.

Cavagnah says Police who are usually the first on the scene of workplace accidents should receive more investigative training to pursue charges under the Westray act with assistance from the federal government.

He would like to see every workplace fatality in the country given a full investigation as protocol, resulting in charges under the Westray Act if warranted.

“Most cases now end up in civil court, where companies pay some money and sadly they just view it as the cost of doing business, if criminal charges were on the table workplace safety would be taken more seriously,” said Cavagnah.

The Department of Labour is continuing to investigate the two recent workplace fatalities.