t’s 3:00 p.m. on a sunny afternoon and Duroop Nandlal is answering health and safety questions from co-workers, casually passing on advice and inspecting work areas. Not unusual you say except Nandlal’s shift ended an hour earlier. He’s known to stop in on his day off as well, just to check if things are okay.
Anyone who knows Nandlal says he constantly goes the extra mile to help ensure his work environment is as safe as possible. This is no easy task when the job site is the massive redevelopment project at Pearson International Airport which currently employs about 2,000 construction and building trades workers.
A member of Labourers International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 506, Nandlal has worked for more than 15 years in the construction sector. He knows the sector well having worked on rigging, cement finishing, form work and general construction now for more than eight years. Currently working on gate security, Nandlal knows exactly who’s on site at all times. However, a flexible work arrangement frees him up as a health and safety resource in the field.
As a shop steward and worker trades committee member, Nandlal says, “Worker health and safety is the most important issue on the job site for me. I value their lives more than the job site.” He finds however some workers are still afraid to speak to their supervisor for fear of reprisal, so he speaks for them. He did just that when the Ministry of Labour was called in to investigate a work refusal. The worker, whose first language wasn’t English, was sent to work in an open area without the protection of a guardrail and fall arrest equipment. “I told the worker to trust his instincts and that the law would protect him,” says Nandlal. The issue was resolved and the protective equipment was provided.
Having worked for five years at the Pearson site, currently the largest construction project in Canada, Nandlal says with pride it’s also one of the safest. Well functioning worker trades committees and regular toolbox safety meetings held by union stewards help reinforce health and safety policies and procedures he says. This was especially important during this summer’s record setting heat wave exposing workers to heat-related health problems. Nandlal diligently followed up to ensure safety procedures were followed and reminded workers to take regular breaks.
Roly Bernardini is president of LIUNA Local 506. He recommended Nandlal receive a health and safety volunteer recognition award last fall at an event hosted by the Workers Health and Safety Centre, the Toronto and York Region Labour Council and the Central Ontario Building Trades. Says Bernardini, “From day one Duroop has participated in the Local’s political action, training and health and safety committees. He speaks out when confronted with issues affecting his co-workers. For this work he is respected by members and Building Trades affiliates alike. His determination and loyalty have helped Local 506 gain a reputation of strength and respect ―
for this we commend him.”