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November 27, 2018

Quebec safety board tells Champlain Bridge builders to provide clean toilets for workers

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The workers building the new $4.2-billion Champlain Bridge toil in difficult conditions, high above the St. Lawrence River. But one of their biggest challenges has been to find a clean — and heated — portable toilet on the work site.

Quebec’s workplace safety board this week issued a violation notice giving the consortium building the bridge until Friday to make sure there are enough portable toilets on the site and that they have lighting, heating and are clean.

“We’ve had trouble for a long time with toilets on work sites, especially during the winter,” said Simon Levesque, who is responsible for health and safety for the construction wing of the Quebec Federation of Labour. The union provided photos showing filthy toilets on the site.

Levesque pointed to a regulation in place since 2015 that requires sites with 25 workers or more to have flushable toilets that are heated to 20 C.

Levesque acknowledged that there are some proper facilities on the Champlain bridge site that conform and are clean, but there are also a lot of chemical toilets that do not respect the regulations. “We want to get rid of these chemical toilets completely,” he said.

“Workers have to use them, because the installations that conform to the regulation are too far, and they have to walk for 30 minutes to find one,” Levesque said.

He complained that some of the chemical toilets have been blown over by the wind “with the liquid and everything, and they were put back up and left there without being cleaned.”

Julie Robitaille, a spokeswoman for the workplace safety board, said an inspector visited the Champlain bridge site Wednesday and gave the consortium, Signature on the St. Lawrence, two days to fix the toilet problems.

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