Safely weathering the storm in Nova Scotia

Challenges posed by historic snowfall that brought more than 150 cm to some areas

Safely weathering the storm in Nova Scotia

The recent snowstorm that swept through Nova Scotia left behind a blanket of challenges for worker safety across various sectors. As the province grappled with the aftermath of the biggest storm in 20 years, health and safety professionals were on high alert, ensuring measures were in place to mitigate risks for workers facing hazardous conditions.

Navigating hazardous conditions

Matt Drover, senior director of energy delivery at Nova Scotia Power, shed light on the safety challenges faced by power utility workers amidst the snowstorm. "Safety is our number one priority. With winter storms, not only do the winds play a factor, but definitely the buildup of snow…keeping our crews safe with hazardous road conditions was our main focus over the weekend."

It's all part of the big clean-up of 2024, which the province says features more than 1,000 workers using about 400 pieces of equipment to remove snow. Help is arriving from neighbouring provinces like Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.

Drover says collaboration is crucial during these kinds of extreme weather events. Coordinating with other provincial agencies, especially those responsible for road maintenance has been paramount. "We work very closely with our partners at DMO to target areas where we think there is damage to our equipment to clear the road and to get access," explains Drover.

Source: Nova Scotia Power

Construction site safety amidst adverse weather

Robert Rowe, director of safety services at Construction Safety Nova Scotia, provided valuable insights into the safety challenges faced by construction workers during and after the snowstorm. Rowe stresses the importance of planning, saying, "the key thing is preparing and keeping an eye on the forecast because it does change quickly."

Rowe says all construction companies need to have comprehensive safety plans, particularly in managing snow removal and addressing hazards on construction sites. "A key component is having a plan, such as understanding what you're doing with your laydown area.” Rowe says site inspections are critical, with an eye for assessing hazards and implementing measures to safeguard workers from risks such as falling snow and ice accumulation.

"Even after the storm, if the wind picks up, then the snow can blow around and impact visibility and cause more drifts and overhangs," Rowe cautions. He wants everyone working on construction to understand the dynamic nature of safety considerations in the aftermath of severe weather events.

With as much as 150 centimetres of snow in Cape Breton, the storm serves as a stark reminder of the importance of prioritizing worker safety in adverse weather conditions. “And sometimes that means workers need to stay home,” says Rowe.

 Health and safety professionals across sectors are dedicated to implementing robust safety measures and fostering a culture of safety that withstands the challenges posed by nature's fury. In the face of adversity, Nova Scotia stands united in its commitment to ensuring the well-being of its workforce, weathering the storm with resilience and resolve.