TORONTO, Sept. 15, 2014 /CNW/ - A recent decision upholding a previous
health and safety order regarding rescue equipment for those working in
Bell Canada confined spaces will help ensure the safety of workers in
the industry, Canada's largest union in the private sector says.
"We look forward to working with the company to implement this
decision," said Doug Dutton, president of Unifor Local 52 and the
Unifor/Bell Health & Safety Resource for Ontario.
The ruling upheld an earlier Health and Safety Inspector's Order and
expanded it to apply to all confined spaces. That order requires Bell
to provide the proper equipment and trained personnel to operate that
equipment whenever workers are performing their duties in confined
The original complaint stemmed from a 2007 incident in which two workers
died in such a confined space after they were overcome by the toxic
atmosphere at the bottom of the vault, and collapsed.
Bell Canada was fined $280,000 after pleading guilty to a health and
safety violation under the Canada Labour Code. The workers were
employed by a company contracted with Bell to lay fibre optic cable.
That incident follows a previous incident in 1994 at the Oakville Ford
plant in which a Bell worker, sent into a utility hole with a rope tied
around his waist, was soon overcome by fumes. The worker was treated
and released from hospital.
The order calls on Bell to ensure there are specially designed tripods
at the confined space opening, with a worker present who has been
trained to operate the tripod to retrieve workers should it be
Bell must also determine where a rescue call will be directed should
something happen at the work site, must ensure responders are equipped
with the specified rescue equipment and identify response times. For
work in remote areas, the employer must determine whether alternative
arrangements are needed.
"This is an important decision for Unifor and especially for the
families and the members most affected by these tragedies. We can only
hope they find some comfort in this," said Unifor Assistant to the
President Dave Moffat.
Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing
more than 305,000 workers, including 30,000 in telecommunications. It
was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and
the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.
For further information:
please contact Unifor Communications National Representative Stuart Laidlaw at Stuart.Laidlaw@Unifor.org or (cell) 647-385-4054