Student injured by falling guard rail at Annex school
Incident highlights risk of sending kids to school next to active construction zones
A student at Palmerston Avenue Junior Public School was struck by a piece of scaffolding that had fallen from the construction site of a renovation project near the southeast corner of the Annex building on Jan. 15.
Monica Gupta, whose child attends the school, said the incident has raised concerns among several parents she’s spoken with in the community. However, Gupta also noted the school seems to be doing everything it can in response.
“They had a meeting with the Ministry of Labour, daycare, the inspectors came. Of course, this is after something awful happened,” said Gupta.
In a letter sent home with parents on Jan. 18, Matthew Reid, principal of Palmerston Avenue Jr. P.S., confirmed the student was struck by part of a safety guard rail that had dislodged from the structure. Following a review by Toronto District School Board (TDSB) Health and Safety, the Ministry of Labour and Clifford Construction, Reid said he was told weather may have been a factor.
Ryan Bird, spokesperson for the TDSB, said the injured student returned to school the following week and construction resumed as of Jan. 23.
Further safety measures have been put in place in wake of the incident. The Kindergarten yard will remain closed until the completion of the project and evacuation plans to reroute students during an emergency have been created.
Mesh netting has been extended to wrap around the scaffolding, plus a 15-foot extension has been added to the overhang at the north and south entrances and extra tie-ends and guardrails have been installed.
Reid said safety procedures were reviewed with all on-site crew and a third-party engineering consultant inspected the site and scaffolding, along with TDSB officials and Clifford Construction prior to any further work.
“This project has been going on for months now. There’s so much construction. There’s fencing all around what should be the children’s area, for the younger kids. That’s what hurts the most, it’s taking up a lot of their space,” said Gupta. “It’s been a long drawn-out process and I think parents get very frustrated with it.”
Reid said Clifford Construction indicated on Jan. 18 that it requires 14 working days to complete the restoration work and dismantle and tidy up the site. He insisted the crew will try to do as much of the work as possible when students and teachers are not present in the building.
“Work has resumed at the school — with the safety measures outlined in a parent letter last week put in place,” said Bird. “The project began on June 30 and weather permitting, will wrap up in the next couple of weeks.”
Ontario’s Ministry of Education announced on Jan. 15 that it would commit $784 million of funding toward building 39 new schools and 40 major renovations and additions in communities across the province.
Construction resumed at the school on Jan. 23