After 15 positives, BEST starts taking temperature of staff at all bus depots

Updated: Apr 29, 2020, 07:17 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar | Mumbai

Bashed by unions over poor safety standards, city's only lifeline amid lockdown defends itself saying 13 patients were exposed to the virus elsewhere

BEST workers get their temperature checked before entering a bus depot
BEST workers get their temperature checked before entering a bus depot

After 15 cases of Coronavirus among its workforce, including one death, the BEST Undertaking, that is currently the city's lifeline, has begun daily temperature checks of employees at entry points of all bus depots.

BEST officials said that of the 15 cases, two have been categorised under 'occupational exposure' — that is, the virus was probably caught by the patients at work. In the rest of the cases, employees came to work after already being exposed to the virus elsewhere. For example, one of the infected employees was residing in a Containment Zone and the one who died had visited his native place and had been hospitalised.

"Eventually, a picture goes out that the 15 BEST employees got Coronavirus while at work. The fact that they came to work after already having been exposed to the virus elsewhere is ignored and this aspect of occupational exposure goes unnoticed. Of the 15, seven are bus conductors, four are drivers, two are electricity department employees and two are from the transport engineering department," a BEST spokesperson said.

"Temperature guns have been provided at bus depot entry points and the body temperature of all employees is being checked when they enter the premises for work. Only after due recordings, employees are allowed to proceed to work," another senior official said.

The BEST also redrew its plans and omitted conductors from several buses after cases of employees contracting the virus at work surfaced and trade unions alleged poor standards of protection for the staff.

"We had been warning since day one. The BEST has woken up after 35 days, now that employees are testing positive. Still, better late than never," said BEST Kamgar Sanghatna general secretary Jagnayaran Kahar. The union had organised a 'Demand Day' on April 21 seeking safety for BEST workers.

Conductor beats COVID-19
A BEST conductor of Goregaon depot, who has a history of asthma, and a resident of Mira Road, was admitted at Tambe hospital as a COVID-19 positive case since April 13. On Tuesday, he was discharged from the hospital.

Made to sign undertaking: BEST Power staff

BEST Power employees said that they have been forced to sign an undertaking that says they have not come in contact with Coronavirus patients and that no one in their family is positive. A BEST spokesperson said that the undertaking was necessitated because, in 13 of the 15 positive cases, the virus was probably caught by the workers elsewhere. The spokesperson added that the understanding is required to maintain a database.

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