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Crosslinx documents new COVID outbreak, year-long disruptions

Don Wall
Crosslinx documents new COVID outbreak, year-long disruptions
FILE PHOTO

A statement from Crosslinx Transit Solutions (CTS) outlines a litany of COVID-19-related delays, infections, inspections and health and safety compliance frustrations as the consortium attempts to keep the Eglinton Crosstown LRT project in Toronto on schedule.  

Crosslinx director of communications Kristin Jenkins revealed Jan. 7 that over the last 14 days, 28 Crosslinx employees and subcontracted workers at eight sites have tested positive. Currently, there are about 70 Crosslinx employees and subcontracted workers who are self-isolating because of a potential exposure.  

No worksites are shut down, although work at some sites has been disrupted due to worker absenteeism. 

“COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the Eglinton Crosstown project,” stated Jenkins.  

Since March of last year, Jenkins reported, 65 people who work at one of Crosslinx’s 24 construction sites between Black Creek Drive and Kennedy Road have tested positive.  

The extent of the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the project schedule has yet to be determined,” Jenkins said. “This requires extensive consultation with Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario, and our legal action is one step in that process. 

Given the project’s size, with approximately 1,500 workers active on Crosslinx sites at any given time, it has been a frequent target of Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MLTSD) inspectors. Between March and December, ministry inspectors visited Crosslinx sites 27 times. 

The first month alone, to April 9the MLTSD made 14 visits and issued 21 orders. Eighteen were for more hot water at wash stations, two for cleaning wash facilities and one was a document request for a subcontractor. Jenkins said Crosslinx complied with all orders and no stop work orders were issued.  

Of the 13 visits since then to Dec. 24, there were no orders were issued. That day, the ministry issued one order related to wearing masks when not socially distanced and the other for social distancing on breaks.  

Jenkins noted that Crosslinx has made a practice of reporting positive cases to Toronto Public Health since last March. With numbers rising, the consortium this week issued written notices to workers who aren’t social distancing or adhering to other COVID requirements. 

Of the 28 current cases, Crosslinx has determined that 17 were community acquired, 10 were acquired at work and one is to be determined. 

Absenteeism due to positive cases and isolation of workers has affected productivity, Jenkins noted, as have supply chain disruptions. Last fall, slag, a component used in concrete, was in short supply due to production issues at U.S. steel mills, disrupting the schedule for concrete pours. 

Additionally, there have been delays related to vehicle testing because Bombardier staff based in Pittsburgh were not able to come to Toronto to do driver training or assist with other issues related to testing and commissioning.  

Metrolinx also issued a statement on the outbreak.  

“As the constructor for the Crosstown project, Crosslinx Transit Solutions has been entrusted with a critical responsibility to run a safe site – this includes ensuring appropriate protections are in place for their employees to minimize the transmission of COVID-19,” stated communications manager Anne Marie Aikins.   

“Safety is critical to everything Metrolinx does. We are monitoring the situation on CTS sites closely to ensure they remain accountable to the requirements of our contract. The Ministry of Labour will also act independently within its authority to make sure CTS lives up to its obligations to provide a safe environment both on and around their construction sites.” 

 

Follow the author on Twitter @DonWall_DCN.

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