Nova Scotia hires safety prosecutor

The government of Nova Scotia has hired a prosecutor to focus on workplace safety investigations. Alex Keaveny has been appointed to the special prosecutions section of the Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service.
Keaveny, a Halifax Crown attorney, won the competition after a national search.

Public Prosecution Service and the Department of Labour and Advanced Education worked together to create the position to ensure more workplace accidents with serious injuries or death are thoroughly investigated and prosecuted, where warranted.

As the Crown attorney dedicated to occupational health and safety cases, Keaveny will provide investigators with advice before charges, and prosecute offences.

"When someone is injured or dies at work, their loved ones understandably look for justice," said Labour and Advanced Education Minister Kelly Regan. "Keaveny's appointment, plus a strengthened partnership among our inspectors, the police and the prosecutor's office, will help ensure just that."

Keaveny will also be involved in education and training for safety officers and managers at the Department of Labour and Advanced Education. The training will focus on what to look for during an investigation, and a prosecution perspective on how to gather evidence that can effectively support a court case. Investigators will also receive training focused on Criminal Code offences under Bill C-45, known as the Westray Bill.

"This appointment is another step in the province's commitment to enhance the investigation and prosecution of offences resulting in workplace injuries or fatalities," said Attorney General and Justice Minister Lena Metlege Diab. "Everybody in the workplace must understand there is a legal accountability for workplace safety."

Keaveny is a veteran prosecutor. He was a Crown attorney in Toronto and Halifax, and has experience in private practice where his focus was on civil and tax litigation, and regulatory defence. Since he joined the Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service, he has prosecuted hundreds of criminal code and regulatory offences.

The provincial government announced in February it will hire 17 additional staff for its safety division, including inspectors, engineers and a division focused on education and compliance. Five new safety inspectors are now on the job completing inspections and increasing education in workplaces across the province. The new inspectors were part of 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.

The province is also working with industry to identify and target high-risk companies with poor safety records, and will be working with police to share information on safety training and inspections.