For immediate Release:

Monday, December 22, 2014

Recent Charges Under Province’s Occupational Health and Safety Act Must Lead to Change in Safety Practices and Training 

ST. JOHN’S, NL – Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE) President Carol Furlong is calling on all employers in the province, including the provincial government, to review safety protocols and take immediate action to reduce the potential for harm to workers while they are on the job.

The renewed call for increased safety measures, enhanced equipment, and training for workers follows two recent instances of charges being laid against employers for violations of the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act and Regulations.

Earlier this month, the Department of Transportation and Works and the City of St. John’s were found guilty on all counts under the Act relating to the death of Joe English. Mr. English, who was a NAPE member with the Department, was struck and killed on the job on July 5, 2011, on the outer Ring Road.

Last week, the Department of Justice and Public Safety was charged under the Act in relation to the drowning death of an employee in February of 2013. Fisheries and Wildlife Officer Howard Lavers, also a NAPE member, was on patrol with two fellow officers near Bellburns on the Northern Peninsula when the ice gave way.

In both cases, charges included: failure to provide proper information, training, instruction and supervision; failure to ensure necessary protective clothing and devices were used; and failure to ensure safe work procedures were followed. 

“We were shocked and deeply saddened by the tragic loss of these two NAPE members as a result of workplace accidents. The loss felt by their families and friends, their coworkers, our Union, and people in their respective communities was immense and is still felt today,” said Furlong. “The terrible incidents and the resulting charges under the OHS Act clearly shows that there is an urgent need to be vigilant in the workplace, and that all employers, including the provincial government, have a responsibility to ensure proper safety practices, equipment and clothing, and training are in place.”

“It is too late to review safety protocols, staffing levels, best practices, equipment, and training after a worker has been seriously hurt, or worse,” stated Furlong. “The tragic loss of these workers must serve as call to action for all parties to be proactive about finding ways to reduce the potential for harm to workers.”

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For further information please contact:

Keith Dunne, NAPE Campaigns and Communications Coordinator

(phone) 709.570.2501  (cell) 709.631.9737   (e-mail)