Quebec needs to do more to protect traffic signallers on work sites, union says
Health & Safety Construction montreal Road Safety
By Thomas MacDonald
After a hit-and-run that killed one traffic signaller and injured another last week in Montreal, a union representing traffic controllers says the province needs to do more to protect them.
A 39-year-old signaller died on Monday as a result of his injuries, police confirmed Wednesday. The other worker, also 39, suffered minor injuries. The driver who allegedly caused the July 12 collision, a 68-year-old man, surrendered to authorities and was later released.
Martin L’Abbee of United Steelworkers, the union that represents around 1,000 traffic signallers in the province, says the incident marks Quebec’s 19th traffic controller death in the last three decades, including signallers and workers installing signage.
He called the figure “inconceivable,” likening the work controllers do to protect road users to that of police officers.
“This has to stop,” he said. “They’re not policemen, but they’re protecting everyone.”
United Steelworkers is pushing for an update to Quebec’s driving course to include a section on traffic control workers’ safety, as well as more worker safety training in construction companies that receive government contracts for highway work.
L’Abbee also wants to see a public campaign to raise awareness of signallers’ work and more severe penalties, such as higher fines and licence revocations, for drivers who violate traffic signals near road construction sites.
In a statement offering condolences to the family of the signaller, the office of Quebec Transport Minister Genevieve Guilbault said it welcomes proposals for worker safety improvements and that it already plans to include in contracts additional measures to ensure proper signage installation at roadwork sites.
It also pointed to a recent update to its three-year plan to improve safety on roadwork sites, which includes increased speed monitoring around work sites and an evaluation of how traffic control barriers can “minimize exposure to risk” for workers.
L’Abbee called the plan “a step in the right direction,” but insisted more needs to be done. He said he hopes drivers realize traffic control workers are there for their safety. “They’re there for the security of everyone,” he said.