Nova Scotia construction industry grapples with invisible threat of COVID-19

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With the number of COVID-19 cases increasing daily in Nova Scotia, the province’s construction industry is adapting its practices to prevent the spread of the disease on job sites.

Workers and employers have been asked to wash their hands frequently, disinfect equipment and high-touch surfaces, avoid carpooling and lunch away from the group.

But there’s one major hurdle they haven’t quite tackled: how to keep a safe distance during tasks that require more than one person, like lifting a heavy beam.

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“It’s definitely an issue that we’re all having to deal with, because sites aren’t just one trade, it could be five trades,” said Heather Cruickshanks, a board member for Merit Nova Scotia.

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“It is becoming challenging and to be honest I’m not sure every site is doing as good of a job as it could, and that’s concerning to me. It’s concerning to all my members.”


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Merit Nova Scotia represents open shop contractors, who don’t belong to a union. Cruickshanks said some of these workers are requesting layoffs over concerns for their health and their families.

Heather Cruickshanks says the non-unionized, ‘open shop’ workers are expected to follow safety rules, just like everyone else.
Heather Cruickshanks says the non-unionized, ‘open shop’ workers are expected to follow safety rules, just like everyone else.

Elizabeth McSheffrey/Global News

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READ MORE: Alberta construction sites allowed to continue with precautions during COVID-19 pandemic

Nova Scotia construction workers are no strangers to health and safety risks.

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