Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine (October 2014)

A lack of warning signs on a St. John’s highway caused a car to hit several road workers in 2011, killing one of them, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) stated in court.

The city of St. John’s and the Department of Transportation and Works are each facing charges under the provincial Occupational Health & Safety Act. Lead police investigator and RNC Constable Barry Osmond testified in a St. John’s court on September 2, 2014 that there had been little indication of people working on the road just before the accident.

“There was nothing there warning people that they should reduce their speed,” says Constable Osmond, who testified that the only warning to oncoming traffic at the worksite was a small amber light on the roof of one department vehicle.

“It was my opinion when I was investigating that that was a significant factor that led into the event itself.” Only three of the nine workers were wearing high visibility gear at the time, including one of the struck workers, he adds.

On July 5, 2011, a group of workers from the city, Transportation Department and Irving Oil Commercial GP were inspecting the pavement from premature erosion on part of the Trans-Canada Highway. An eastbound SUV, moving behind several cars that decelerated suddenly, swerved into another lane to avoid a rear end collision and slammed into three road workers.

A department worker in his 50s was pronounced dead at the scene. The other two – a city employee and an Irving Oil worker – sustained serious injuries.

On July 4, 2013, following a separate investigation by Occupational Health & Safety authorities, Service NL announced that the department and the city were facing seven charges each of violations of the act, while Irving Oil was facing six counts. The SUV driver is not facing any charges.

My opinion

There is a lot of legislation today dealing with construction flagging. It is disappointing that both the city of St. John’s and their department of Transportation hadn’t completed a JHA (Job Hazard Assessment or Analysis) prior to any work that was to be done. I am also surprised that the city either did not have a Safety Officer on staff or one that was ineffectual. Either way, the accident occurred and another worker lost his/her life on the job.

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Construction Flagging’.

Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at info@hrsgroup.com

Ensure your workplace is a safe place.

Remember – In Canada, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal 

CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.