Don't be seen to cause a traffic jam that inconveniences a
government health and safety officer. Perhaps that is the
real moral of this story.
A safety contractor was providing traffic control services on
the Trans-Canada Highway in Nova Scotia where a bridge was under
repair. An Occupational Health and Safety Officer with the
Nova Scotia government became caught in the resulting traffic
jam. While stuck in traffic, she tried by phone to put a stop
to the bridge work so the traffic could clear.
Her main stated concern was that there was inadequate warning
that traffic might be slowing down. She wrote a compliance
order against the safety contractor. Three months later she issued
a $1,000.00 administrative penalty for allegedly failing to ensure
that traffic control staff were provided with appropriate training,
facilities and equipment.
The Nova Scotia Labour Board held that "these are very
vague allegations". It decided that the mere fact that the
situation occurred did not prove that the traffic control staff
lacked training and resources. The health and safety officer did
not appear to have a clear understanding of what training or
direction the safety contractor had provided on that day. She
drew her conclusions from limited information and not from a
measured review. She did not contact the company in the days after
the incident to give them the opportunity to address her
The Labour Board stated:
"The submissions of the Appellant impress me that the
company is expert in its field and could have addressed many of the
concerns of the officer, had she made the additional effort to
contact company officials in the days following the
In the end, there was not a proper factual basis to support the
Administrative Penalty, which was set aside.
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