Nova Scotia Federation of Labour President Danny Cavanagh wants more criminal investigations of workplace accidents. “Twenty-two-year-old Brandon Alcorn died from a head injury after he fell from the roof of the Kent Building Supplies store in Dartmouth Crossing on March 13, 2018, and we are now seeing charges laid.
“We were pleased to see the Department of Labour file occupational health and safety charges against Alcorn’s employer, Insulated Panel Structures Inc. of Waterdown, Ont. The job supervisor, Mr. Jeff Gooch, has been charged with criminal negligence causing death in the case. We hope that those criminal charges send a message to the bosses that they can face criminal charges and that jail time is a possibility, says Cavanagh.
Three construction workers died in Nova Scotia in 2018 from injuries suffered on the job, and this is unacceptable. Canadian unions worked hard to call on the federal government to do more to ensure the implementation of the Criminal Code provision known as “Westray Bill” following the 1992 Westray mine disaster. The law allows for corporations and employers to be convicted of criminal negligence when a worker gets killed on the job. Sadly this has only led to a handful of charges since the law was enacted in 2004.
“We know more work needs to be done and we will continue to lobby for stronger prevention measures like proactive inspections, a robust enforcement regime, strong health and safety committees. Investing in prevention is the best thing we can do to keep workers safe so they can return home to their loved ones at the end of the day.
“Employers need to know that there will be strict enforcement of the laws we have, including legislated occupational health and safety requirements and the Westray Law,” says Cavanagh.