Mon | May 17, 2021

Work-from-home relief for Hanover municipal workers

Published:Thursday | March 11, 2021 | 12:08 AMBryan Miller/Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

Workers in the main building of the Hanover Municipal Corporation (HMC) in Lucea are now looking forward to the implementation of the Government’s work-from-home policy as a welcome relief from the air-quality woes that are reportedly making them ill.

This latest air-quality issue at the HMC comes on the heels of last week’s revelation that the corporation’s Poor Relief Department had to be closed just over a week ago because of the air-quality challenges, which is believed to be caused by mould in the building.

A worker who brought the matter to the attention of The Gleaner, said the problem is concentrated on the ground floor of the two-floor HMC main building. The worker said the poor air quality in the building was brought to the attention of David Gardener, the corporation’s chief executive officer, whose office is on the upper floor of the building.

When other workers were contacted, they too informed The Gleaner that the walls inside the building, which is one of the parish’s historic sites, is covered with mould, which they believe is the source of their problem.

“The Planning, Accounts, Information Technology and Enforcement departments are all on the ground floor, and these are the areas seriously affected by the bad air quality,” the employee told The Gleaner.

“This problem has been there from early 2020. There is a wall between the Accounts Department and the Information Technology Department, and on either side of the wall the mould is quite visible,” added the worker.

According to the workers, the members of staff, especially those with respiratory issues, have been struggling with the issue, regularly falling ill because of the air-quality problem.

“We have been complaining about the issue since 2020, but the complaints seem to be going unnoticed, because nothing has been said to us,” a worker said.

“Some people came and inspect the building several months ago, but nothing has been communicated to the staff since then,” the staff member added.

When The Gleaner made contact with Gardner, he said the corporation is aware of the issue, albeit not through any complaint from the staff, and was taking steps to address the situation, starting with an air quality assessment.

“Not because of complaints from staff, because they have not complained to me about air quality,” said Gardner, in reference to efforts to address the issues. “It was really an initiative that I did in collaboration with a technical officer from the ministry (of Local Government). We were just having a discussion, and it is out of that discussion that I came up with doing something like an air quality assessment.

“We have commissioned a company to do estimates, sanitisation and some deep-cleaning work of the interior of the building,” added Gardner.

While Gardner has provided no timeline as to when the sanitisation and deep-cleaning will take place, the workers say they are hoping that while they are away, working from home, the opportunity will be used to address their concern, as they are not looking forward to returning to the existing conditions.