Louis Hippolyte La Fontaine bridge tunnel construction site Some call it the tunnel

Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine bridge-tunnel construction site: “Some call it the tunnel from hell”

Louis Hippolyte La Fontaine bridge tunnel construction site Some call it the tunnel

In December alone, in a report submitted to the RLF consortium made up of Pomerleau, Eurovia QC and Dodin QC, the CNESST issued no fewer than 18 exemptions, mainly relating to the ventilation of the site. (Photo: Quebec Ministry of Transport)

The CNESST is concerned for the safety of workers and the public in the Louis Hippolyte-La Fontaine tunnel. And in recent months she has informed the construction site's project manager several times about the repair work, Renouveau-La Fontaine (RLF), and was able to take note of this Offers.

In December alone, the Commission on Standards, Equity, Health and Safety at Work (CNESST), in a report submitted to the RLF consortium consisting of Pomerleau, Eurovia QC and Dodin QC, issued no fewer than 18 exemptions, mainly The ventilation concerned the site and the “quality” and “quantity” of the air within it, particularly in the south tube, where most of the work is currently concentrated. Some of these deficiencies identified in October have still not been addressed, the Commission noted.

“The entire situation shows that the project manager does not apply the methods and techniques aimed at identifying, controlling and eliminating the risks of construction site ventilation that could affect the health and safety of workers,” the CNESST concludes in this report , which was written a week before Christmas.

“Despite numerous visits and discussions,” the commission’s inspectors continued, “the project manager does not mobilize to resolve the situation quickly.” Health and safety management is deficient, which may affect the safety of workers and the public,” repeat them, this time in a document created in early February.

In December, inspectors found that oncoming vehicle traffic in the north tube affected the direction of air circulation and created fog, “which was not the case before the construction site began.” The project manager then “confirmed that he did not have a ventilation plan for the tube reserved for traffic.” At the time, he also told CNESST that the tunnel's original ventilation towers were closed.

In February, the consortium said the opposite this time, confirming that the same towers had never been closed and that “no changes had been made to the existing ventilation system.” The RLF representative then said that the “existing ventilation system remains sufficient and effective,” the CNESST wrote.

Since this visit by the Commission, several sources have confirmed to Les Affairs that the health and safety director of Renouveau La Fontaine and at least one other person responsible for the health and safety of workers and the public in the workplace have resigned from their roles.

Requests made to the Quebec Ministry of Transport for several days to know the precise circumstances of these departures and to obtain clarifications on the conclusions of the CNESST on the health of workers and the public remained dead letters until the time of writing these lines.

High turnover rate

Recall that last August the mega construction site was suspended for almost two weeks due to mold in the central utility corridor between the two pipes. The case was referred to the CNESST after workers refused to continue their activities there. At the request of the CNESST, the Montreal Regional Public Health Department has been involved in the matter since this episode.

In December, the CNESST pointed out in its reports that despite the exemptions granted in October and November, “a ventilation plan for the central corridor has not yet been drawn up.” She also notes that “there are still partitions with curtain doors installed in various places in the hallway” and “that there is no trace of air in these areas.” A plan was finally presented in February.

“Several of our workers are asking us not to go to this construction site. And as soon as the opportunity arises, they go to another page. Some call it the tunnel from hell,” says Evan Picotte, responsible for prevention and occupational safety at the Quebec Provincial Council for Construction Trades (International).

“Yes, some change has taken place, but it happens through repetition, through complaints and persistence,” he continues, adding that at the end of the summer the turnover of staff on the site was around 30%.

A turnover rate is also observed at FTQ Construction, denouncing the working conditions on the construction site. “From the moment the workers reported that there were problems with ventilation, that some were in pain, had a lack of endurance or had headaches, it took a while for us to improve the situation. For me this is not normal. This is poor work organization and poor work planning,” says Simon Lévesque, the union’s health and safety manager.

“If work organization is not good, productivity will never be good and workers will always be at risk,” he continues.

“We can congratulate the health and safety representatives (RSS) on site and the union actors who highlighted the dangers so that RLF takes responsibility,” said Félix Ferland, health and safety manager at CSN Construction. The latter affirms that there has been a “significant improvement” recently.

“Blank documents”

For both the south and north tubes as well as the central supply corridor, the CNESST also asked RLF last autumn to keep a register to compile the results of “air quality, air quantity and air feeling”.

When they returned to the site this winter, commission inspectors found that this register had been created as requested. However, they remind the project manager of the website, the register “must be completed” and that “the submitted document contains no data and is a blank document”.

Also in February, the CNESST noted the lack of a control plan “for the flow of materials in the south tube.” This, the commission adds, “may lead to an increase in the concentration of carbon monoxide in the air and risks of poisoning”.

“What we want is the result. We don't care what happens to the workers, laments Evan Picotte. The biggest challenge now is to implement the appropriate procedures and plans [le consortium] have implemented. When we move to the other tube, we'll see if they've learned from what happened in the south tube.

Subscribe for free to the Lesaffaires newsletter and follow business and financial news in Quebec and internationally, delivered straight to your email inbox.

Stay up-to-date on the ups and downs of the stock market, the news of the day, and find opinion pieces from our guest experts that address the issues affecting the company community with our three daily newsletters, sent morning, noon and evening.

1695223101 886 Quebec hoteliers are falling behind digitally LesAffairescom