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(Halifax) – A survey of CUPE municipal employees across the province has revealed that working in trenches, in many cases, is still an accident waiting to happen.  />

CUPE Nova Scotia says a survey of its 29 municipal locals showed that the vast majority of them did do excavating and trenching work.  The union’s Health and Safety Representative Robert Wells, says the rest of the findings, however, were quite startling.  They include: 

  • Two-thirds of the locals responding (66%) say that their workplace has been involved in hazardous occurrences, such as trench collapses or persons buried. 
  • Only 38% of the locals said their safe work procedure called for a trench box or cage to be used in excavations. 
  • Only 33% say that their employer even had a trench cage or box that they could use. 
  • Only 58% responded that all members have been trained that might reasonably be expected to come in close proximity of a trenching operation.


CUPE Nova Scotia President Danny Cavanagh says, “It is clear that we still have a lot of work to do, both with our own members and with employers in this sector to ensure there are no more serious injuries – or worse, fatalities from trenching accidents.  We lost a CUPE member just last year in this manner, and we can’t let that happen again.


“What is needed,” says Cavanagh, “is employer-provided training that takes place during work hours and is given to all employees who might possibly come close to a trenching operation – not just those who typically perform this kind of work.


“We’d like to see municipal employers step up the plate on this important issue and start to provide this training,” says Cavanagh.

For information:   

Robert Wells                                Danny Cavanagh              John McCracken

CUPE Health and Safety Rep.       CUPE NS President        CUPE Communications Rep.

(902) 455-4180(o)                         (902) 957-0822 (Cell)              (902) 455-4180 (o)