Nova Scotia responds to complaints on administrative penalty system; proposes revisions

Halifax, Nova Scotia – More than three years after Nova Scotia created a system to issue penalties to employers, supervisors and employees for workplace safety violations, the Canadian province has proposed revisions after receiving complaints that the system is unfair.

The Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education publicly released a discussion paper on July 29 outlining how it intends to take the administrative penalty system in a new direction. The paper proposes to make the penalty system graduated with three levels – education, order and penalty. Although violations constituting a “serious risk to health or life” would prompt fines, less-serious first-time violations would first result in inspectors educating employers and employees on compliance.

The proposed revisions also would give inspectors the ability to issue administrative penalties. Currently, this power is limited to a central administrator.

Additionally, the paper proposes combining the appeal process for compliance orders and administrative penalties, which currently are separated.

Public stakeholders have until Sept. 26 to comment on the proposed changes.