Metrolinx ramps up efforts to keep staff and customers safe during third wave

Since January 2020, Metrolinx has kept everyone updated on the actions to limit the spread of the virus including any new efforts implemented to keep everyone safe, and been transparent about the number of staff who have tested positive for COVID-19.

This week, Metrolinx had 14 additional staff across a variety of work locations in the GTHA test positive for COVID-19; six were staff working from home. There has also been an increased number of contractors impacted by positive cases.

The total number of Metrolinx staff that have tested positive is now 108 out of over 4,300 employees and remains a small percentage of the workforce. Of the total number of Metrolinx staff who tested positive, more than 98% contracted the virus outside the workplace and do not appear to have had close contact with customers.

Since the pandemic began, Metrolinx has implemented over 40 permanent safety actions which has helped keep case levels within critical frontline transit staff low. As the variants cause an alarming increase in cases across the province, however even more is needed to ensure everyone stays safe until vaccination rates are higher and the pandemic is brought to an end.

A worker scrubs the inside of a bus.
Linburg James wipes down the grab rail inside a GO bus at the Streetsville Maintenance Facility. While Metrolinx has always disinfected vehicles and stations daily, it has stepped up the frequency to ensure all high touch surfaces are cleaned regularly throughout the day. (Matt Llewellyn photo)  

Additional measures implemented include:

  • An extension of the work from home policy for non-frontline staff
  • Frontline staff have been issued medical grade masks
  • Over 80 inspections of work sites were completed to ensure staff understand and fully comply with safety policies such as workplace health screening, mandatory medical masks at all times, keeping a safe distance, appropriate disinfection, and taking breaks in outdoor spaces. 
  • Safety officers are also conducting on site training and support at work sites.
  • UV cleaners in stations – stay tuned for more information about an innovative way to keep your electronics and cards clean.
  • With the widening availability of vaccinations in Ontario, and to encourage our employees to get vaccinated to protect themselves, Metrolinx will provide as much flexibility as possible to accommodate employees who are scheduled to receive the vaccination, once they are eligible for it. More staff are reporting being vaccinated and that is good news.

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 encouraged to continue to stay close to home during the stay-at-home order. If customers must travel, they are encouraged to continue to wear a face covering on public transit – even if they have been vaccinated.

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

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.
  • Take care of your mental health.

Story by Anne Marie Aikins, Metrolinx senior manager of media