By Gordon Lambie
Local Journalism Initiative
Sherbrooke’s auditor general, Andrée Cossette, presented her 2020 annual report to the city council on Monday highlighting, among other things, serious concerns about workplace health and safety within the Hydro-Sherbrooke garage.
“Above all the observations that I made, health and safety in the workplace is the major point that came out of my work,” Cossette said to media in a briefing on the report Monday morning. “It is not what I was looking for when I got started, but it is what we found in the course of the work.”
Observed in the context of a broader audit of the management of Hydro-Sherbrooke’s vehicle fleet in general, the safety concerns relate to a combination of factors within the utility’s garage including confined or poorly arranged workspaces, missing safety equipment, and dangerous practices.
Cossette’s notes related to workplace safety at Hydro-Sherbrooke echo observations from her 2018 report regarding the upkeep of the city’s public transit fleet. Although the auditor was hesitant to speculate about the status of other municipal garages without having conducted any specific investigation, she admitted that the two cases observed so far are enough to raise questions about the conditions under which the city’s other vehicles are maintained.
Aside from issues with safety, Cossette’s report also criticized Hydro-Sherbrooke for ineffective or inefficient maintenance on vehicles. Due mainly to a lack of standardized maintenance schedule and system, she said that different parts of the fleet are both under maintained and over maintained at the same time, both of which result in unnecessary extra costs.
Cossette’s full report is now available on the city’s website, www.sherbrooke.ca