SYDNEY MINES â€“ More safety inspectors are on the job and surprise inspections in high-risk industries have increased to better protect workers.
Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Geoff MacLellan, on behalf of Labour and Advanced Education Minister Kelly Regan, gave an update on steps to improve workplace safety at the annual Davis Day ceremony Wednesday in Sydney Mines.
Davis Day pays tribute to miners who have been injured or have lost their lives on the job.
"As the son of a coal miner, I know very well the sacrifices this province's miners have made for their families and for their communities," said MacLellan. "On Davis Day, we remember the coal miners who lost their lives in the pit, and we renew our commitment to improving safety in all workplaces across the province."
Five new safety inspectors are now completing inspections and increasing education in workplaces. The new inspectors participated in a construction safety blitz last week that targeted high-risk workplaces. During the blitz, inspectors increased their random, unannounced inspections by 25 per cent over the last blitz held in the fall.
"On days like Davis Day, we remember the legacy our coal miners left behind and the work they undertook to improve safety conditions in their workplace, and all workplaces across Nova Scotia," said Bob Burchell, Canadian representative for the United Mine Workers of America.
"The most important message I could give any worker is know your rights in the workplace. Workers, like this province's coal miners, have fought hard to create safety laws, and as workers we have a responsibility to know our rights and exercise them when our workplace health and safety is being compromised."
Former Devco mine manager Jim MacMillan said improving workplace safety has been a struggle over the years.
"Coal miners have always had each other's backs and I am happy to see such support across the entire province for improvements to workplace safety laws. If we continue to look out for one another and refuse to do work that is not safe, then history will not repeat itself."
In 2012-13, government conducted 2,500 job-site inspections. In the next year, the department will work to increase targeted inspections by 200 per cent. The Public Prosecution Service is in the final stages of hiring an additional prosecutor to focus on occupational health and safety offences, and education campaigns are underway to raise awareness about the importance of safety in dangerous industries, like fisheries.
For more information about workplace safety initiatives, visit www.gov.ns.ca/ohs/ .