HALIFAX, N.S. – Money that the trucking industry pays into the Workers’ Compensation Board’s accident fund will now be invested into the industry’s safety training initiatives.
“This further demonstrates government’s determination to reduce accidents, provide safer workplaces, and help with reducing overall operating costs, which is consistent with our government’s commitment to improve highway safety and education,” says Labor Minister Ron Russell, who is also Minister responsible for the Workers’ Compensation Act.
The new legislation puts members of the Nova Scotia Trucking Safety Association – formerly known as the Regional Industry Training Council – on a level playing field with other safety associations such as the Nova Scotia Construction Safety Association, the Forestry Safety Society of Nova Scotia, and the Retail Gasoline Dealers Association of Nova Scotia.
“This is truly to the point of safety,” says Ralph Boyd, president of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association. “The cost of training has become richer for those carriers who want their drivers to take part.”
He says the smaller carriers will be the major benefactors of the infusion of dollars, which will come from a surcharge tacked on to WCB rates.
“I would prefer that (the funding) wasn’t coming out of our pockets,” says Boyd. “But, if it means everyone is forced to contribute to safety so it’s not just those carriers with a conscience, I’m all for it.”
Dianne Isnor, executive director of the provincial Human Resource Sector Council and the NSTSA, stresses the initiative will be both funded and controlled by the trucking industry.
“(It) will reduce the toll of workplace injuries, increase the rate of (safety compliance), reduce WCB rates and reduce overall operating costs,” she explains. Industry will decide which safety training programs it funds, she adds.
“We’re not going to go all of the way down to Yarmouth, N.S. to train one person,” says Isnor. “But maybe, if we get a call to do that we’ll end up calling all of the companies in the area and group them together in a training session.”
The APTA hopes to use the example set in Nova Scotia, to encourage other Atlantic provinces to follow suit.
As hopeful as Boyd is that this will eventually become a regional initiative, he admits the safety association, coupled with its parent group the sector council, has helped forge stronger ties between industry and government than exists in may other provinces. That makes it easier for such a funding mechanism to evolve in Nova Scotia.
Russell agrees, adding the change reinforces his government’s willingness to work with various industries to reduce operating costs through sound maintenance and operating procedures, including safer workplaces.
“A poll of the trucking industry revealed 80 per cent support for this change,” said Russell. “This also gives this industry accountability to deal with training for occupational health and safety.” n
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