Canada’s national mail service has responded to recent claims from employees that aging postal trucks have been leaking carbon monoxide (CO) inside the cabs in the Ottawa area.
The issue became public with a CBC News story posted online on July 12. The story quoted Julie Stewart, a Canada Post deliverer in Kemptville, Ont., and Smiths Falls mail worker Diana Bayer, both of whom claimed that workers were being poisoned by CO coming through their trucks’ exhaust.
The article also stated that some Canada Post workers had begun carrying gas detectors while on their delivery routes. Stewart reportedly had to go to the hospital twice earlier this year because of drowsiness and chest pains.
In an e-mailed response to COHSN, Canada Post stated that it has processes for equipment and vehicle maintenance and that employees are welcome to identify and report any issues.
“We have taken the concerns brought forward by the two employees in Kemptville and Smiths Falls seriously and have taken action,” the organization wrote.
“The vehicles were pulled from service, and extensive testing was conducted, including on-the-road delivery conditions to investigate. Maintenance, as well as a health and safety rep, were involved. We have informed the employees that no evidence was found to support their claims.”
Mail vehicles are inspected and maintained on a regular basis, depending upon elapsed calendar days and elapsed kilometres travelled, Canada Post said. A multipoint inspection and any necessary maintenance are required before a truck returns to service.
“As part of their regular duties, employees are expected to complete a daily vehicle inspection to help detect any issues or potential issues that would require testing or servicing outside of the regular schedule,” the organization added.
“In addition to our regular maintenance program, if a potential safety issue is identified, we will pull the vehicle off the road for testing. We also have a joint approach with the unions – at the local and national level – to review any potential safety concerns.”
But the CBC story quoted Stewart as saying that supervisors had done nothing about the alleged CO problem for many mail workers. It also cited a case in which a Brockville worker had supposedly measured a CO reading of 49 parts per million inside her truck’s cab, using her own CO tester. In the latter case, the employee’s supervisors replaced the exhaust system inside the vehicle and solved the problem, she said.
The problem has reportedly occurred inside Grumman LLV trucks, which have been out of production since 1994. Canada Post signed a deal with Ford to replace them in 2010, according to the CBC, but some workers are still driving Grumman trucks more than 20 years old while on the job.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers did not respond to COHSN’s request for comment before press time.
A Crown corporation, the Canada Post Corporation employs about 64,000 workers nationwide, including around 25,000 mail carriers delivering to nearly 16 million addresses, according to the organization’s 2015 annual report.