The federal Offshore Health and Safety Act took effect on June 19, 2014, amending the Newfoundland & Labrador and Nova Scotia Accord Acts, addressing the jurisdictional uncertainty of the previous occupational health and safety (OHS) framework and establishing a new OHS regime for the East Coast offshore. The Offshore Health and Safety Act repealed the existing OHS regime in the Accord Acts, which relied largely on provincial legislation applicable in the offshore areas governing such things as human rights, labour standards, and workers’ compensation and health. In its place, the Act added a new “Part III.1 – Occupational Health and Safety” to the Accord Acts, vesting sole authority for OHS in the Accord Acts.
The overall effect of the key changes is the clarification of the roles and responsibilities of key stakeholders: the federal and provincial governments, offshore petroleum boards, operators, employers, employees and other key parties in the OHS regime. Here are the three changes that are key to achieving this clarity:
Offshore board safety officers have new and comprehensive powers to investigate and inspect. The Act creates an “occupational health and safety officers” role responsible for occupational health and safety for the purposes of administration and enforcement of Part III.1. The legislation gives health and safety officers new and comprehensive powers to further enhance safety, such as the ability to enter/inspect a place of work, pose questions, conduct tests, take samples, remove anything for examination, take photographs or measurements, use any computer system, prepare a document, use copyright equipment, be accompanied by an individual, meet in private with any individual (with their agreement), inspect living quarters (with consent or without consent in certain circumstances), and examine any aspect of safety and security. It ensures that occupational health and safety officers, special officers, conservation officers and operational safety officers have the same powers for the administration and enforcement of the Accord Acts.
It’s now clear that the OHS regime applies to workers who are in transit to, from or between workplaces in the offshore area, as well as to workers at offshore workplaces. The new Act also requires that any occupational health and safety regulations applicable to the transportation of persons who are in transit to, from or between workplaces in the offshore areas must be made on the Minister of Transport’s recommendation.
The new Act delineates which federal or provincial legislation applies to particular circumstances in offshore workplaces in an effort to clarify jurisdictional uncertainty:
Here are some additional changes the Act makes to the East Coast Offshore regime:
Please contact your McInnes Cooper lawyer or any member of our McInnes Cooper Energy & Natural Resources Team or our Occupational Health & Safety Team to discuss this topic or any other legal issue. Read more McInnes Cooper Legal Publications at www.mcinnescooper.com/publications/. Subscribe at www.mcinnescooper.com/subscribe/.
McInnes Cooper prepared this article for information; it is not legal advice. Consult McInnes Cooper before acting on it. McInnes Cooper excludes all liability for anything contained in or any use of this article. © McInnes Cooper, 2015. All rights reserved.
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