FREDERICTON - Public Safety Minister John Foran
introduced legislation yesterday that will make a public inquest mandatory when
someone dies suddenly or unexpectedly in certain workplaces.
The legislation would require the coroner to perform a
public inquest into deaths that occur in woodland operations, sawmills,
lumber-processing plants, food-processing plants, fish-processing plants,
construction project sites, and mining sites, pits and quarries.
Foran said the intention of the legislation is to
improve the safety of workers by exposing the circumstances surrounding sudden
deaths or unexpected deaths in the workplace.
"We have to learn from many mistakes and one of the ways
to do that is to have a coroner's inquest," said Foran.
"We want to make sure for the workers of this province
and the people of this province that all the facts come out on deaths."
The province's coroner office is responsible for the
investigation of all sudden and unexpected deaths, including those that occur
in the workplace.
Foran said New Brunswick Coroner Services maintains the
option of deciding to investigate any death, but he said the amendments will
make the government's position explicit on the aforementioned cases.
"It won't be the coroner's option if somebody gets run
over by a piece of machinery, we've legislated that it has to be done," he
said, offering an example.
"It could be someone who is working in a mine who falls
off of a crane and falls under a piece of machinery."
Foran noted that the Liberals made the commitment to
amend the law in the last provincial election campaign.
"We've had concerned groups, especially from the labour
groups, come forward," he said.
"We felt it was only right and justified to make sure
the labour force in this province is well looked after."