Common OHS Risks, Challenges, and Compliance Regulations in the Maritimes, Canada

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19 April 2023 >> , , , ,

Common OHS Risks, Challenges, and Compliance Regulations in the Maritimes, Canada

Common OHS Risks, Challenges, and Compliance Regulations in the Maritimes, Canada

TAKEAWAY: This article highlights the top economic sectors in each province within the Maritimes and addresses some of the region’s most extensive workplace health and safety risks and challenges.

By Elly McGuinness

The word “maritime” could refer to any land next to the sea. In Eastern Canada, the three provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island are collectively known as the Maritimes. They comprise around five percent of Canada’s population.

Each province within the Maritimes has its own governing body for workplace health and safety. Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island employers must familiarize themselves with the applicable legislation for their province and the organization that will help guide them with their workplace health and safety obligations and responsibilities.

We also share the health and safety governing bodies for each Maritime province and offer suggestions for occupational tests. This information enables employers to keep workplace health and safety at the forefront of their organization and, ultimately, protect their workers.

[Learn more about OHS risks, challenges, and compliance regulations in Ontario, the Territories, Alberta, British Colombia, and Quebec].

Top Economic Sectors in the Maritimes

The Maritimes is a net exporter of natural resources, goods, and services. Fishing, logging, farming, and mining have traditionally been the region’s mainstays. Trends in recent years show increases in the manufacturing sector and a shift towards a service-based economy.

Agriculture, forestry, and fishing are significant sectors in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Despite its extensive coastline, New Brunswick’s economy relies less on its fisheries than its forests. Tourism, potato farming, and fishing are notable sectors of Prince Edward Island.

Statistics from 2021 show that the main contributors to GDP in the Maritimes are Real Estate and Rental Leasing and Public Administration. In New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, Manufacturing comes third, with Health Care and Social Assistance a close fourth. In contrast, Health Care and Social Assistance account for more GDP than manufacturing in Nova Scotia.

Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting are New Brunswick’s largest sectors by employment, with Retail Trade and Manufacturing in second and third. Its largest industries by revenue are Electric Power Transmission, Gasoline and Petroleum Bulk Stations, and Commercial Banking.

The most significant sectors by employment in Nova Scotia are Retail Trade, Accommodation and Food Services and Healthcare and Social Assistance. Retail Trade, Administration, Business Support Waste Management Services and Manufacturing employ the most people on Prince Edward Island

Gasoline and Petroleum Bulk Stations, Commercial Banking, and Gasoline and Petroleum Wholesaling are the biggest revenue generators in both Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

SureHire offers a wide range of occupational testing programs and additional resources to support employers and their workers, including audiometric testing, fitness-to-work testing and lung health testing.

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Workplace Health and Safety Regulatory Bodies in the Maritimes

WorkSafeNB is the governing body for workplace health and safety in New Brunswick. They oversee New Brunswick’s Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Workers’ Compensation Act, Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission and Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal Act, and the Firefighters’ Compensation Act.

They aim to prevent workplace injuries, illnesses, death, and disability by offering employers and employees education, training, advice, and resources. Employers should notify WorkSafeNB about work-related severe accidents and injuries, and the organization will guide employers on the return-to-work process. WorkSafeNB helps employees with the claims process and ensures they understand their rights and responsibilities.

The Nova Scotia Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) division oversees workplace safety in the province. Nova Scotia’s Occupational Health and Safety Act and regulations protect workers, and the Department of Labour’s OHS division enforces it. They promote workplace health, safety, and compliance in various ways, including online courses and PDF guides.

The Workers Compensation Board of PEI administers workplace health and safety legislation from the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act on Prince Edward Island. They have several resources to help employers understand how the legislation applies to their workplace. Examples include a farm safety code of practice, guides for the OHS Act, fall protection, workplace violence prevention, working alone, and more.

Health and Safety Risks and Challenges for Maritimes Employees

Statistics from 2020 showed that Nova Scotia’s Disabling Injury Frequency Rate (DIFR) was higher than the federal jurisdiction rate. In contrast, the DIFR in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island was below this value. Data from the same year showed that the Fatal Injury Frequency Rates (FIFR) in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia were above the federal jurisdiction rate, whereas New Brunswick reported zero fatalities.

Regarding Lost Time Injury Frequency in 2021, the Maritimes compared well against other regions, especially New Brunswick, which boasted the lowest frequency of all provinces.

The most frequent lost time injury claims in the Maritimes are traumatic injuries to muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints. 

Common injury sources include 

  • Non-pressurized containers
  • Building materials
  • Floors, walkways, and ground surfaces
  • Being struck by or against an object
  • Bodily reaction
  • Overexertion

Employers should understand the primary causes of these injuries in their industry and how to prevent them.

[Learn more about preventing musculoskeletal injuries in the oil and gas, transportation, manufacturing, and mining industries].

Occupational Tests Maritimes Employers Should Consider

Occupational health and safety tests are a vital part of health and safety for any organization. Employers should invest in occupational testing services relevant to their industry to best protect their workers.

Considering the Maritimes’ top economic sectors and common occupational hazards, the following suggestions offer a starting point for employers.

Manufacturing is a significant industry in this region with unique health and safety risks. Drug and alcohol testing and Reasonable Suspicion Training are vital in this sector because employees often operate large machinery in safety-sensitive positions. Audiometric testing will also be required if the work environment is loud. 

The shift toward a service-focused region means Maritimes employees may deal with sensitive information. Employers in service-based industries can use background checks, such as criminal record checks, educational verification, and driver’s abstracts, to make the best possible hiring decisions for a safer workplace.

Agriculture and forestry are notable sectors in the Maritimes region. These industries employ workers in safety-sensitive roles, and the environment may be loud. Therefore, drug and alcohol testing, Reasonable Suspicion training, and audiometric testing are vital considerations.

Agriculture and forestry work is usually physically demanding, so employers can invest in Fitness-to-Work Testing. Doing so ensures the worker is a good fit for their job role, reducing the likelihood of musculoskeletal injuries.

Employers should always choose the occupational tests most relevant to their unique industry, province, and workplace requirements. Contact SureHire to discuss all your occupational testing needs.

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