The Nova Scotia government's occupational health and safety division needs to focus more on prevention and conducting investigations in high-risk workplaces, according to a new report by auditor general Jacques Lapointe released Nov. 20.
An audit of the Department of Labour and Advanced Education’s occupational health and safety division found the division conducts adequate investigations into serious workplace incidents. However, there needs to be a greater focus more on prevention. Workplace inspection practices were not consistent among inspectors and it was not clear whether occupational health and safety inspections covered all safety risks, said the report.
The auditor general said the department does not consistently follow up to verify that health and safety orders are complied with.
“In half the orders we tested there was no evidence that workplace safety deficiencies had been corrected,” Lapointe said. “Inspectors can also use discretion in setting compliance deadlines; there are no standard time frames.”
The department needs to target high-risk workplaces for inspection; only 27 per cent of the highest-risk workplaces were inspected from April 2012 to March 2013.
“Failure to identify and inspect riskier workplaces limits the effectiveness of the program as a deterrent,” Lapointe said.
The 97-page report contains 70 recommendations to government. The full report is available at www.oag-ns.ca.