There were two convictions relating to the deaths of workers and eight involving "serious injuries" to employees in the period the Saskatchewan Party government halted publicizing convictions of employers or others under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
The government recently resumed issuing news releases relating to occupational health and safety prosecutions and on its website has published a list of convictions that took place between 2007 and March 30, 2009.
The election of the Sask. Party government in November 2007 and a changeover in officials in occupational health and safety created some questions about disclosure policy.
Publication of convictions in news releases and on the government website was formally stopped after new assistant deputy minister Mike Carr ordered a review of the policy in an initiative to also recognize positive activities such as OHS acquittals and good safety records of businesses.
NDP labour critic Andy Iwanchuk said that reasoning was "unacceptable."
Publicizing prosecutions shows the importance of workplace safety, Iwanchuk said, as illustrated by the serious nature of some of the incidents that the government kept quiet about.
"It really puts in the question, how serious do they take this? Whatever the reason they have for doing it, it just doesn't cut it. We're talking about life and death," he said in an interview Monday.
Sask. Party Advanced Education, Employment and Labour Minister Rob Norris said he was concerned about the length of time the review took but defended the fact convictions were not publicized in news releases during that time.
He said there had been a lack of consistency in the disclosure policy under the previous NDP government.
"I'm committed to helping to ensure this is one of the most transparent processes that there is in Canada," he said.
Norris said the government had been willing to share information with the media during the "transition period" However, in most cases, media outlets would not have been aware of the convictions unless the government provided notification.
The last news release on an OHS conviction was in August 2007.
The Sask. Party government released its first news release on a conviction last week.
The list of previous prosecutions shows Bourgault Industries of St. Brieux pleaded guilty last November to one charge under OHS regulations and was fined $8,000 for an incident on Feb. 2, 2007, when an employee died as a result of injuries incurred while operating a laser-cutting machine.
The charge was failure to provide a written lock-out procedure to each worker required to work on a machine other than a power tool,
Hubbard Construction Inc. pleaded guilty to two charges on Jan. 21, 2008, and was fined $17,250 in connection with the 2005 death of an employee who fell at a home construction site near Saskatoon.
The company failed to ensure that an opening or hole in a floor into which a worker could step or fall was covered with a securely installed covering with a warning sign and failed to ensure the health, safety and welfare of a worker.