LRT project safe, says city, RTG after CBC report from labour council leader

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lrt tunnel
An earlier image of the LRT tunnel under construction west of Rideau St. (City of Ottawa photo)

Ottawa’s head of transit services is defending safety at Light Rail Transit construction sites after two workers were injured in a span of seven days and the president of Ottawa’s labour council said workers didn’t feel safe at work, The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reports.

“What’s concerning is that we’re doing this hearsay stuff, rather than getting those facts out on the table,” John Manconi said.

“If those employees have those concerns they should escalate them. I deal in facts,” he said.

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Manconi reiterated the message from the Rideau Transit Group (and OLRT-Constructors), in charge of the LRT project, and said the project’s lost-time injury rates are better than the industry average.

“The city has a proven track record on safety. We are not going to compromise safety to the public, and to employees, to anyone to reach a deadline,” he said.

Ottawa and District Labour Council president Sean McKenny had earlier asserted there are safety concerns at the Ottawa Light Rail Transit (LRT) project, following the second worker injury in about a week.

“Clearly we have a problem at the LRT,” Sean McKenny told the CBC in an March 19 interview. “I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.”

“Workers are concerned for their safety and more needs to be done before we do have a worker fatality,” he added.

In a written statement, Rideau Transit Group spokesperson Sylvia Boyadjian said safety is a priority for RTG (and OLRT-Constructors).

There are three full-time safety coordinators assigned to the tunnel who do safety inspections twice per day, according to RTG, which noted its lost-time injury rates are better than the industry average.

The other, earlier reported incident occurred on March 11, when a worker fell while installing rebar at the Parliament station. RTG said there were no serious injuries in that case.

CBC reported that McKenny has started keeping track of what he said is an increasing number of calls from worried workers.

“It’s not normal for that many workers to be calling me, talking to safety, and the fact that they’re concerned each and every day when they go into work,” McKenny said in the broadcast interview.

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