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Nova Scotia ombudsman uncovers wrongdoings at Amherst scale (July 01, 2010)

AMHERST, N.S. - Nova Scotia Ombudsman Dwight Bishop has issued a scathing report detailing major problems at the Amherst weigh scales.


AMHERST, N.S. –Nova Scotia Ombudsman Dwight Bishop has issued a scathing report detailing major problems at the Amherst weigh scales.

The report was recently obtained and posted by CBC.ca.

In the report, Bishop identified a toxic work environment with internal personnel conflicts that jeopardized road safety and even involved the threat of suicide on the job. The investigation stemmed from employee complaints that “management was and continues to have a negative impact on their duties to the point public safety and the integrity of the highways are compromised.”

The ombudsman’s report revealed various levels of management were guilty of innapropriately voiding tickets. Workers at the scale house also reported “harassment, bullying and performance management issues.”

The report found a high level of absenteeism, sick time, staff turnover and overall poor morale. It got so bad, in fact, that one employee threatened to commit suicide in the area coordinator’s office “in part, due to the work environment,” according to the report.

The report also revealed some officers admitted they target new trucks for CVSA inspections because they are “quick and easy.” Some officers admitted they let trucks that appear to have safety infractions pass by “and they were cognizant of the potential impact this has on the integrity of the highways and public safety.”

Some staff even admitted that during the night shift, they’d pull in the required number of trucks early in the shift and then shut the scale down for the remainder of the night. They’d simply enter the inspected trucks into the computer system so it appeared they were inspected throughout the course of the night, the ombudsman found.

“This investigation has found the front line supervisor at the Amherst site and management have ineffectively managed the various problems at the workplace, allowing conflicts to affect job performance, VCOs diminished effectiveness on the job places both employees and the public at risk,” Bishop concluded in his report.

He issued the following recommendations: that performance and staffing issues be addressed; that the DoT engage an independent source to conduct a review of the Occupational Health and Safety requirements within the job function of the VCOs; that a previously-completed KPMG report be released to the managers; that vehicle compliance operational policies and procedures be developed and made available in hard copy; that a unit quality assurance program be developed and implemented to ensure vulnerable areas of work are constantly being monitored; and that a review of the in-service training requirements for VCOs be conducted.


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