The province will now issue fines in a move to improve workplace safety and compliance with the laws. The regulations came into effect Jan. 15. The new administrative penalties regulations, which were announced in September, will allow an administrator in the Department of Labour and Workforce Development’s occupational health and safety division to assign a penalty after reviewing orders issued by a health and safety officer. Orders are issued when violations are found in the workplace. “Workplace safety is a shared responsibility,” said Labour and Workforce Development Minister Marilyn More. “These administrative penalties are another deterrent which will help us become a province that has no workplace accidents or fatalities.” The introduction of administrative penalties represents the first time employees can be penalized for safety violations in the workplace. Employees will be subject to smaller penalties than employers and supervisors. Any fines can be increased for repeat offences. Penalties can be appealed to the Occupational Health and Safety Appeal Panel. The Occupational Health and Safety division issues about 4,000 orders each year. Although workplace injuries continue to decline, there were 32 workplace fatalities in 2009 and 8,000 incidents where employees were not able to go to work the next day in 2008. Other Canadian jurisdictions such as British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick and the Yukon have similar penalty systems in place. Educating Nova Scotians about workplace health and safety issues is the province’s foremost tool in injury prevention. Fines are seen as another means of promoting compliance. Where warranted, the department will continue to lay charges and proceed with court action.