Union pushes TTC to allow subway workers to wear masks due to air quality

May 17 2017, 2:02 pm

“Enough is enough,” says the TTC union.

ATU Local 113 continues to fight for its workers after last month’s study published by Health Canada regarding the air quality in Toronto’s subway stations.

The study found that pollution levels in Toronto’s subway system are similar to an average day in Beijing, the Chinese capital that struggles with extraordinarily high levels of air pollution.

“For far too long, the TTC has ignored its workforce’s longstanding concerns about subway air pollution,” said ATU Local 113.

The union said that through this new video, they want more Torontonians to understand the significant health risks subway workers are exposed to on a daily basis, “sometimes up to 12 hours a day.”

“No matter what the TTC says, it’s unacceptable for subway workers to sneeze and cough out filthy black dust after a shift. The TTC needs to acknowledge there is a problem and act now to protect workers, which includes giving workers the choice to wear protective masks,” they state.

In April, the Ontario Ministry of Labour said the air quality in the TTC subway system is “not likely to endanger” workers. The ruling came in after three work refusals by subway operators and one maintenance employee who felt they should be permitted to wear masks while working in the subway system.

“The Ministry’s ruling confirmed that the TTC met all of its legal and due diligence obligations and that the conditions within the subway didn’t warrant employees wearing masks,” said a TTC press release at the time. “In other words, the air quality in the subway system is safe and personal protective equipment related to air quality is not required.”

Meanwhile, Local 113 said it will continue to pressure the TTC to allow workers the choice to protect themselves by wearing masks underground.

“We are also calling for an independent investigation and we’ll consult our own expert to determine the health and safety implications for our members,” they said.

Watch their new video below.

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