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Nova Scotia ombudsman uncovers wrongdoings at Amherst scale (May 21, 2010)

AMHERST, N.S. -- Nova Scotia Ombudsman Dwight Bishop has issued a scathing report detailing major problem...

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

The report was obtained and posted by yesterday.

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 effecitveness 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.

The full report can be found here.

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2 Comments » for Nova Scotia ombudsman uncovers wrongdoings at Amherst scale (May 21, 2010)
  1. Ed Murdoch says:

    It is my firm belief that the above problems, at the Amherst POE facility, are but the tip of the iceberg. If there were a country-wide poll, it would not be surprising to me, to find that the morale and cover-up issues noted at the Amherst scale are also present in certain facilities in every province. Indeed, I have spoken with former DoT employees in more than one jurisdiction who have indicated that similar discrepancies and lack of responsibility existed in their experience, which is why they quit their jobs with the ministries. It seems to be that the criteria is all about statistics and revenue, and not about due diligence or public safety.

  2. Kenny Gilker says:

    The biggest problem years ago when these scales issued a $100 fine for a driver driving a Quebec Semi with a different province driver licence. And the driver lived in another province only to come into Que to drive for a company that hauled many provinces and states. I was one of many who was issued these fines.

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