The Ministry of Labor (MoL) issued a stop-work order to the University of Windsor in Ontario after an inspection which discovered mold inside a two-story building housing about 20 campus police officers.
The ministry conducted an inspection on April 8 after receiving a complaint about hazardous working conditions. "There is water infiltrating the roof walls, windows and basement causing a hazard to workers," according to MoL spokesperson Matt Blajer. (WCxKit)
The inspection report indicated that asbestos and mold was found in the building and the workplace was inadequately ventilated. Temperature fluctuations of almost 10 degrees Celsius provided workers with additional health challenges.
"Workers that have already had their health compromised for several years cannot continue to be exposed to these conditions without suffering additional cumulative issues," the report notes. Police officers have since been relocated to another building on the campus.
"Of the 20, 12 of them have respiratory problems, some of them quite severe," Mike Dunning, financial secretary with the Canadian Auto Workers union Local 195 in Windsor, says of the workers. Four who have been hired in the last few years now suffer from respiratory problems, which they never had prior to working in the building. "There's mold on every floor," he says.
Dunning says they have voiced concerns to the university regarding the dire working conditions in the building. "I've been on this assignment for nine years," says Dunning.
Information from the MoL's inspection report notes that the university has been made aware of the health issues of people working in the building as far back as 2000. During visits over five years ago, the university assured the MoL that the issues tied to poor building conditions would be addressed on a priority basis with a six-month time frame. "No effective measures have been taken to address the most serious issues," the report concludes.
The report also notes that after the orders were issued, a recorded phone message found a maintenance supervisor intentionally attempted to prevent workers from discovering the nature of work and/or hazard related to the conditions of the building. (WCxKit)
The university is pending assessments from a contractor prior to determining whether to fix the building which was built in the 1930s, or move police officers to a more suitable location on campus. A couple of new constructions are underway, including a massive 300,000 square feet building.
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