Occupational Health and Safety Branch Initiatives

Sector Specific Inspections

Over the past several years, the OHS Division has implemented work planning processes for the sector-specific senior officers, which seeks to better target and prioritize the inspection activity in their assigned industries. There is an expectation for all OHS officers to work with these senior officers and carry out inspections and strategic initiatives in all sectors. As well, in an ongoing effort to maximize our impact and efficiency, the Division continues to successfully conduct yearly strategic sector-specific blitzes. Some recent blitzes have included, but are not limited to: manufacturing factories, food service establishments, ambulances, quarries, government departments, retail stores (during the holiday season), rinks, large construction projects, residential construction, and roofing.

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Mining Sector Initiatives

Mining is one of Newfoundland and Labrador’s largest and oldest industries, and a major contributor to the economy of our province. More than fifteen mineral commodities have been produced or mined in the province. Five metal mines currently produce iron ore, nickel, copper, cobalt, antimony and gold. Other operations mine pyrophyllite, limestone, fluorspar, and dolomite, amongst other commodities. Our mining and mineral exploration companies directly provide high-paying jobs to more than 7000 men and women throughout the Province. Presently there are 12 active mines operating and 3 more in the development stage.

The mining industry in the province is regulated by the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Division of Service NL, under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Inspections are carried out to maintain and improve health and safety standards in the workplace and to gauge employer’s compliance in conforming to Occupational Health and Safety Legislation
The new requirements for mining were incorporated into the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations which came into effect on March 20, 2012. In addition to the amended regulations, the Occupational Health and Safety Branch also sought input into and developed a new Safety Standard for Shafts, Hoists and Conveyances.

The standardization of a mine rescue program for all mines with underground operations in the Province was finalized and there is a written standard program. The mine rescue training is audited by the Occupational Health and Safety Division and ensures appropriate standardized training for mine rescue personnel and maintenance of mine rescue equipment for the Province’s underground mines.

Also, a guidance document for the exploration industry was developed by the Occupational Health and Safety Division, in order to increase awareness around health and safety issues within the mineral exploration sector.

Over the past several years, the OHS Division has placed a greater emphasis on safety awareness in quarrying operations and the potential hazards associated with this type of workplace, especially with respect to dust exposure. There has been an increased focus on sand and gravel quarries in the Province.

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Process Safety Management Code of Practice

During consultations with stakeholders, the need for a Process Safety Management Code of Practice for the Petroleum sector was identified. A working group, which included representation from the Petroleum Industry and Labour and Government, was established and the Code of Practice was developed. The Code of Practice contains requirements for preventing or minimizing the consequences of catastrophic releases of toxic, reactive, flammable, or explosive chemicals which may result in toxic, fire or explosion hazards. The Process Safety Management Code of Practice was signed by the Minister of Service NL on February 10, 2014 and adopted by the North Atlantic Refining Limited.

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Amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations for Workplace Harassment and Worker on Worker Violence

On January 1, 2020, new requirements in the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations came into force to address Harassment and Worker on Worker Violence in the workplace.
These new requirements came about as a result of an increased focus on psychological health and safety, harassment and violence in the workplace that has been occurring for some time. The OHS Division was tasked with developing these amendments, in consultation with the Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Council to the Minister of Service NL. Significant research was completed on these issues as well as cross jurisdictional scans. Most other provinces in Canada have already implemented similar provisions.

On January 1, 2020 changes to the OHS Regulations were introduced to expand the definition of “violence” in the workplace, and to include requirements for employers to prevent workplace harassment. Employers are now required to develop a harassment prevention plan, attend and provide training and to investigate instances of harassment in the workplace, among other changes related to workplace violence and harassment. The new requirements can be found at the following link.

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Guidance Document

In an effort to facilitate understanding of some requirements or compliance issues, in relation to the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, a Guidance Document was developed. This Guidance Document is a living document which will address issues as they arise. The first version was in large part a response to questions that arose during the complete revision of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations that occurred in 2009. In addition, regulatory issues well known to the Division will be addressed. This document was most recently updated to include further explanation on the new requirements around workplace harassment and worker on worker violence. The guidance document can be found at the following link.https://www.gov.nl.ca/snl/ohs/guide/

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WHMIS 2015

Amendments to the NL Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) regulations were approved in 2018. Workplaces falling under provincial Occupational Health and Safety jurisdiction must fully comply with the new provincial WHMIS requirements by December 1, 2018.

WHMIS is an integrated system of federal, provincial and territorial legislation and regulations that was first implemented in 1988. It is aimed at ensuring that workers and workplaces can identify potentially harmful chemicals and have the information needed to ensure safety. The system comprises images and labels to identify potentially harmful chemicals; standardized documents to provide necessary safety information; and education and training requirements to ensure workers know what they need to stay safe.

Across Canada, including Newfoundland and Labrador, WHMIS legislation has been amended to adopt elements of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) which is used internationally. The new Canadian WHMIS regime is known as WHMIS 2015. For reference to these regulations, please refer to the following link. https://www.assembly.nl.ca/Legislation/sr/regulations/rc180034.htm

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OHS Legislative Regime for Offshore Oil Industry

Consensus has been achieved amongst the Governments of Canada, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation Act (The Accord Act) has been amended to clarify responsibilities and incorporate an OHS legislative regime for the offshore oil industry. On December 31, 2014, Part III.1 of the Accord Acts entered into force. This legislation creates a new role for the provincial ministers responsible for occupational health and safety for both Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia. Under this new regime, the Minister of Service NL, as the Minister responsible for OHS, has an oversight role for OHS matters, just as the provincial Natural Resources Minister has for other Accord Act matters.

An Offshore Regulatory Working Group has been established, under the Atlantic Offshore Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) initiative, to develop a new, permanent, modern, comprehensive regulation to be complied with while working in the offshore areas off Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia. The Working Group is chaired by an analyst from the Federal Department of Natural Resources (NRCAN), and is composed of representatives from both provinces’ OHS Divisions, Natural Resources Departments, and Offshore Petroleum Boards. The result of this initiative is that there will be one regulation covering not only OHS but also occupational diving in the offshore.

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Review of the Radiation Health and Safety Legislation

The Radiation Health and Safety Act and the Radiation Health and Safety Regulations govern the inspection, installation, use, maintenance and registration of equipment which is capable of producing ionizing radiation such as x-ray machines and CT scanners. The Act came into force in 1977 and while some amendments have been made, a comprehensive review of the legislation has not taken place since it was first enacted.

In 2018, the OHS Division completed a review of its Radiation Health and Safety Legislation. Consultations were held from April through to June by way of EngageNL, and the Division is advancing forward in consultation with Legislative Counsel to draft amendments to the legislation.

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Representatives of Atlantic Canada (RAP)

RAP is collaboration between Transport Canada, the four Atlantic Provinces responsible for occupational health and safety and the Federal Labour Program of the respective provinces. RAP provides a support to OHS officers in their roles as enforcement officials in carrying out their duties through the sharing of OHS related information and training. This environment is created for Health and Safety Officers to share ideas, best practices and the ability to network. All of the jurisdictions send representatives to participate and contribute information resulting in a broad base of topics for the benefits of all involved.

This collaboration will prove to be beneficial as the Atlantic Provinces move towards a mutual recognition and harmonization of occupational health and safety requirements, as well as new policy directions across the country with the legalization of cannabis and a greater awareness around harassment free workplaces.

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