Another LRT tunnel worker severely injured, public not told until worker comes forward
A worker is coming forward about his harrowing experience because he's concerned about safety in Ottawa's LRT tunnel.
The worker, who doesn't want to be identified for fear of losing his job, says the incident happened at 1:30 am on March 1st at the new Lyon station, near the corner of Queen St. and Lyon St.
The man is a labourer who was working on weeping tile. When his regular entrance to part of the tunnel was blocked, he tried to hop over a small wall, but he didn't see a piece of rebar that was sticking up.
"I fell into the trench...my face hit off the concrete and I was knocked unconscious," the worker says.
He says the piece of rebar was not marked by paint or safety tape. The co-worker he was with had to walk 15 minutes out of the tunnel to call an ambulance. The problem the man says, is that paramedics didn't know where to go.
"He had to tell me that I had to walk out of the tunnel on my own," the worker recalls.
Once he got out, paramedics at the scene told him they had another call, so his co-worker drove him to the hospital.
"By the time I was given any medical attention from the start of the accident to the time I actually received any medical care was about an hour," says the worker.
After being discharged then called back to the hospital, the man was diagnosed with a herniated disc in his neck. He's scheduled to have surgery on Wednesday and will be off work for at least three months.
The worker also says he had to notify the Ministry of Labour himself last Tuesday about the incident after finding out that no one else had. On Monday, the Ministry of Labour confirmed that fact. They were made aware of the incident on March 14 and issued three orders to the Rideau Transit Group about the incident, including a stop work order until "all rubbish is promptly removed from the underground."
RTG Construction Director Tim Stewart says there are safety measures in place.
"There are emergency phones available in the tunnel," he said in a phone interview. Stewart says there should've been a phone within 200 metres of where the incident on March 1st happened. The worker claims he's never seen a phone in the tunnel and there are bigger problems with safety.
"They don't keep the place clean. There's a lot of tripping hazards. There's a ton of stuff that can injure you down there," he says.
There have been three confirmed incidents in the tunnel in the past three weeks. The worker believes the RTG is compromising safety by rushing to finish the project on time.
"You're getting told all the time 'let's go, let's go, let's hurry this up!'...you know, deadline, deadline," he says.
"As we rush this along, and keep rushing as the date gets closer...I think you're going to see an increase (in injuries)."
We want to hear more stories about the working conditions inside the LRT tunnel.
Are you an employee working on the site? Let us know about your experience -- email: firstname.lastname@example.org