The city of Toronto’s auditor general has issued a series of videos of tree contractors committing numerous safety breaches, including working alongside and through overhead lines while simultaneously operating a platform and talking on a mobile phone. This comes 18 months after the contractors were warned of similar issues following an audit.
Other issues included the worker taking breaks or not working while billing the city on an hourly basis, and in some cases, not doing the work at all. The auditor has estimated the overcharge at $2.6 million after tree maintenance workers were continuously caught on camera breaching basic safety standards.
Auditor general, Beverly Romeo-Beehler, told the audit committee that the audit team witnessed crews passing hours sitting, talking, smoking, reading, and exercising — spending an average of just three and a half hours of their eight hour day working on trees, including all set up, clean up, and paperwork. The audit team reported that city crews were also discovered to have violated safety protocols.
The video below – one of three – is self-explanatory.
Given the number of fatalities in the sector and the high risk of contacting overhead power lines it is astonishing to see such a nonchalant attitude to those operating the platforms. As to the other issue, one wonders why the city issued an hourly contract rather than a per job deal. Definitely one for our Death Wish series.