Metrolinx strengthens safety measures as COVID cases increase

Since the pandemic began just over a year ago, Metrolinx has kept everyone updated on actions to limit the spread of the virus and the number of staff who have tested positive for COVID-19, including any efforts to support public health officials in contact tracing.

This week, Metrolinx has had seven additional staff and several other contractors across the region – both operational and working from home – test positive for the virus. None of the employees had direct contact with customers and all appear to have contracted the virus outside the workplace.

Since March 2020 when the first presumptive case was reported, the total number of Metrolinx staff testing positive is now 92 out of over 4,300 employees – and remains a small percentage of the workforce with no outbreaks on trains or buses.

As the cases increase throughout the province, Metrolinx has taken additional measures to ensure both staff and customers continue to remain safe until the vaccine is more widely available.

A man works on the front of a train.
A mechanic at one of GO’s preventative maintenance bays inside the Willowbrook Rail Maintenance Facility ensure that cables are correctly connected to the front of locomotive 630. 2020 marks a decade of service for nearly three quarters of GO’s MP40 locomotives. (Matt Llewellyn photo)

Strengthened measures include:

  • Working from home extended – half the Metrolinx workforce has been working exclusively from home and they will continue to do so as much as possible. We will reassess the situation in June.
  • Staff issued medical grade masks – staff face coverings have been upgraded to medical grade masks to provide further protection against the variants of concern.
  • Active staff health screening – prior to entering the workplace, all staff and contractors must complete health screening. Rapid testing is being expanded to more sites. If any employee, or anyone in their household has any symptoms they must stay home.
  • Reinforced safety actions – COVID-19 safety audits are conducted at worksites, additional staff education and web information, and increased supports for staff mental health and wellness.
  • Vaccine support – staff are kept informed and updated as vaccine rollout continues to expand.

For the past very long year of the pandemic, customers have listened to the advice of public health and limited travel for essential purposes. Customers are especially encouraged to stay home during the upcoming holiday weekend. If customers must travel, they are encouraged to continue to wear a face covering on public transit – even if they have been vaccinated.

Public health officials have made it clear that until vaccinations are more widely available it is important that everyone continues to maintain all safety measures, such as wearing masks, keeping a safe distance and washing hands. 

Metrolinx has not let down its guard; vehicles and stations continue receiving additional deep cleaning, hand sanitizer on vehicles and in stations is replenished regularly, and staff continue to wear masks, eye guards and gloves. 

All of the more than 40 safety actions implemented over the last year to keep customers and staff safe remain in place such as unique barriers between seats on buses and trains and superior air filtration. 

Stay safe and focused on the basics from public health:

  • Monitor your health and stay home if ill or potentially exposed to COVID-19
  • Wear a face covering and ensure both the nose and mouth is covered at all times (Check out the Metrolinx PPE dispensers and branded masks)
  • Wash your hands regularly, use hand sanitizer and keep a safe distance from others
  • Download the COVID Alert App so you can alert others if you test positive.

Story by Anne Marie Aikins, Metrolinx senior manager of media.