OHS Canada Magazine

OHS rules apply to workers, not general public, N.S. government says following traffic jam during construction


August 24, 2022
By OHS Canada

Health & Safety heat stress Highway Safety nova scotia Traffic

(UMB-O/Adobe Stock)

By Lois Ann Dort, Guysborough Journal

Motorists on Highway 104 in Nova Scotia between Antigonish and New Glasgow experienced hours-long delays due to construction on Aug. 5.

While such a delay results in numerous bad outcomes for the travelling public, the situation was further exacerbated by the heat warning that was issued for the province that day.

The Journal reported on this incident the following week, Aug. 10. At that time, the newspaper asked the Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration what responsibility the company doing the roadwork had to the public, citing the provincial heat stress guideline issued in July of 2020, which states that it is a legal requirement for employers, “under clause 13(1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act to take every reasonable precaution to ensure the health and safety of persons at or near the workplace.”

This week, the department supplied the following answer: “Owners and employers’ duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act are intended to prevent hazards associated with the workplace (e.g. present at or generated by). Environmental factors like heat or cold events have broader impacts outside of occupational settings. When environmental factors like heat events happen, the intent of OHS requirements under most circumstances do not apply to the general public near the workplace because its beyond their control to manage adequately.”

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