Article first Published by the OH&S Canada magazine
March 2009 – Andrew D’Cruz
Provincial officials in Alberta have opted not to pursue charges in connection with the death of a worker last April at the Muskeg River site, then jointly operated by Shell Canada and Albian Sands Energy Inc.
Christopher Allen Vanmoorsel, 26, died at about 8 pm when a 280-tonne heavy-haul truck ran over the pick-up truck he was driving near a work site 75 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, Alberta. The Caterpillar 797B is one of the largest mechanical dump trucks, measuring 10 metres wide, 14 metres long and seven metres tall when empty.
Vanmoorsel was driving from the mine site toward an administration building at the end of his shift when the deadly crash occurred. He was an electrician employed by Bucyrus Canada Ltd., which had been contracted by Albian Sands Energy to maintain the mine’s electric shovels.
“There wasn’t enough evidence to be able to support prosecution,” says Chris Chodan, a spokesperson for Alberta Employment and Immigration (AEI).
The fatality report posted on AEI’s website identifies the following factors as contributing to the deadly incident:
• the heavy-haul truck had only limited visibility;
• the operator did not hear the radio call “light vehicle crossing the pad,” possibly because of “very heavy radio traffic”;
• Vanmoorsel had stopped his pick-up truck in a location where he would not be visible to heavy haulers, and had not obtained the operator’s permission before advancing; and,
• the ramp leading to the collision site was designed with poor sightlines.
The AEI report cites a number of measures that have been taken since by Albian Sands Energy to prevent similar accidents, including re-routing traffic on the site, upgrading its radio systems, and installing road signs for so-called “light vehicles.”
The decision not to prosecute Albian Sands points to “a shortcoming in our system in Alberta, in that the capacity for investigation, the capacity for stringent enforcement of the rules and regulations, falls short of what it needs to be,” charges Jason Foster, director of policy analysis for the Alberta Federation of Labour in Edmonton.
Can you believe that no charges were laid here? If the province had looked deeper there would have been either mistakes by the company, the supervisor, the driver or maybe safety controls were not in place and, that in itself, should have driven charges.
I have continually been critical of the province of Alberta in its attempt to police itself in the work area. I stand by my statement. I have do not have to research very far to find articles such as these.
If the reader would like, I have a previous blog post with the title, “Alberta Health and Safety – an Oxymoron.” All other provinces know it to be true.
Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer