Unions pleased workplace safety 'taken more seriously' in Nova Scotia courts

Second jail term handed down for OHSA violation

Nova Scotia Federation of Labour president Danny Cavanagh said he is pleased that there is some jail time behind a recent conviction for offences under Nova Scotia’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) following the death of a worker who fell off a roof of a Clayton Park Building in 2013.

“The 60-day sentence is only the second jail sentence in Nova Scotia for a violation of the OH&S Act and while we believe the sentence is not harsh enough, it is a sign the legal system is taking a harder look at workplace injuries and fatalities,” said Cavanagh.


This is not the first time Halifax contractor David Busk, owner and manager of Truss Worthy Framing, has been implicated in a workplace death in Halifax. In 2011, Busk was fined $25,000 and sentenced to 200 hours of community service at Habitat for Humanity after his employee, Craig MacNamara, died when he fell from a roof on Sentry Court in Bedford in 2010. MacNamara had been wearing a safety harness but it wasn’t affixed to a lifeline.


The first time a jail sentence was handed out for violation of the OHSA in the province was earlier this year against Joseph Isnor. Isnor was handed a 15-day sentence for repeat offences under the act while operating a roofing company. He faced three separate sets of charges for incidents dating back to 2010.


Cavanagh said he was pleased in 2014 when the Nova Scotia government hired a special prosecutor, Alex Keaveny, to work on workplace safety investigations, and Keaveny was involved in both of these prosecutions.


“The fact that both of these convictions were for repeat offenders shows how much more work needs to be done on enforcement, but we are pleased that courts are starting to take action and this is a warning to other employers to take workplace health and safety seriously,” said Cavanagh.