A Nova Scotia contractor has received one of the longest jail sentences of its kind in Canada for once again violating the rules of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. 

On Friday, Joseph Isnor was sentenced in Halifax provincial court to serve four months at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Burnside.

Isnor pleaded guilty to this latest charge in November and now has 10 convictions under the act. Nine of them, including the latest violation, were for failing to ensure his employees were using proper fall protection while working for his company, United Roofing Inc.

This latest violation of the act happened last August in Herring Cove, just three months after he was sentenced to serve 15 days for previous safety violations.

"I hope that it shows that when you refuse to comply with your requirements under the act that the consequences are going to become more and more harsh until the message gets through," said Alex Keaveny, the province's special prosecutor for workplace accidents.

4 months off the job

Keaveny said he believes Isnor's four-month sentence is the longest of its kind in the country for safety violations under the health and safety act. 

In addition to the jail time, Isnor is not allowed to work in the roofing industry for a period of four months from his sentencing on Friday. If he is released early, Isnor can't be working himself, can't be managing others and his crew can't work for him until the four months is up.

This further financial consequence will "hopefully provide further incentive for Mr. Isnor to finally comply," Keaveny said.

'Choosing to put people at risk'

Isnor must also report all jobs to the Department of Labour and Education for the next two years. Keaveny said that's similar to a condition expected to be added to the Occupational Health and Safety Act in June that will impose reporting requirements.

"I don't relish sending anyone to jail but I was glad that the judge agreed that ... Mr. Isnor had a pattern of non-compliance that was pretty significant," said Keaveny . 

"Judge [Marc] Chisholm saw it just like that, that Mr. Isnor is deliberately choosing to put people at risk. He agreed that the consequences have to get more and more severe until the message gets through." 

From 2013 to 2016, 32 people died on the job in Nova Scotia. Seventeen of those deaths occurred in 2013, which led to a provincial safety blitz. There were five deaths in 2014, eight in 2015 and two in 2016.