Former E360s Cornwall employee claims safety protocols routinely ignored


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An employee with Environmental 360 Solutions (E360s) Cornwall Waste Management Services is calling out the company because he said it’s been routinely disregarding COVID-19 safety protocols.

Make that, former employee.

Matthew Lafleur said he’s had a couple of stints with the company, including over the last few months, and he was terminated on Friday, which was just after speaking to the newspaper about his workplace concerns. The reason(s) behind Lafleur’s dismissal are unclear; the operations manager said Tuesday that for privacy/confidentiality reasons she can’t discuss anything related to Lafleur’s employment.

Lafleur said he was let go at 3 p.m. on Friday, and Saturday would have been the three-mark month for working with the company.

In an interview held before Friday, Lafleur said there’ve been “a lot of (COVID-19 positive) cases here at this location,” and fellow employees are not notified about that, by the company.

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“A lot of us do come into contact with people who’ve tested positive. We’re not notified with letters, there’s no contact tracing whatsoever. . . they don’t shut down the shift, they don’t let us know (of positive cases) – I’ve worked with two people who’ve tested positive. . . it’s alarming knowing that a co-worker has COVID. They’re sick, and they don’t quarantine for 14 days.”

Lafleur said a lot of the drivers head out without masks, and are later “in direct contact with the public.”

Inside the plant, located on Cornwall Centre Road, Lafleur said there is signage, but no hand sanitizer on the line, little if any attention paid to physical distancing, and that there’s a general dearth of personal protective equipment available.

Operations manager Melissa Gibbons in a phone interview on Tuesday morning said the assertions are incorrect, that “we are constantly in contact with the (Eastern Ontario Health Unit),” so much so that if there are any questions or arising situations regarding pandemic protocols, she has the email address of a specific nurse at the EOHU whom she often deals with.

“We were told by the EOHU that we are actually doing above what is required (regarding safety regulations),” Gibbons said. “(Rules and regulations often change), but I try to stay on top of it 100 per cent.”

She said the company follows protocols, signage is posted, tracing is in place, and masks, safety glasses, face shields and gloves are worn by employees. As a specific example of the company’s safety efforts, Gibbons said a second area – an office – was opened as a second lunch room, meaning there are two cafeteria areas, with workers on rotating breaks. Further, she said, there’s a limit of two people in a cafeteria at one time, and that employees are assigned to a specific cafeteria.

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As it’s a city contract, Gibbons said there are “daily visits from (representatives of the City of Cornwall). . . they are on the premises (often),” and if regulations were not being followed, “they would inform us.”

Gibbons said if an employee cannot wear a shield for a medical reason, the person is assigned to outdoor work away from any fellow workers. She said as per direction provided the by the EOHU, a worker refusing to wear PPE is sent home.

As for Lafleur’s most serious allegation, about workers having or potentially being infected, Gibbons said it’s the EOHU that has to clear a worker before he/she can return to work, and that whenever such a situation arises, she’s in contact with the EOHU before the person in question is cleared to return to work.

Lafleur late last week said he’d brought up his concerns with supervisors, but was largely ignored. Lafleur said he contacted both the Ontario Ministry of Labour and the EOHU, and was told the situation would be looked into. Then, he decided to go public by speaking to the newspaper.

In a text to this reporter on Friday morning, hours before being dismissed, Lafleur said in recent days the company didn’t want him inside the plant, and he felt that was because “I know too much and have voiced my concerns. . .(I’ve been) verbally called the rat, so now I’m outside in the yard working by myself, and with the doors locked so I can’t get in.”

A few hours later, Lafleur indicated, he was shown the proverbial door.

thambleton@postmedia.com

twitter.com/FreeholderTodd

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