Excerpt from the OH&S Canada Magazine

By Jean Lian

An inquest into the death of a 72-year-old builder on a construction site in Saint John has yielded several recommendations aimed at enhancing safety.

On October 20, 2008, Domenico Ranieri, owner of East Coast Rental Equipment Ltd., and a worker, Charles Israel, were securing roof trusses for a warehouse storage shed being constructed. Weighing about 500 pounds apiece, the trusses gave way when a brace was removed, the motion causing Ranieri and Israel, 26, to fall almost seven metres. Ranieri suffered fatal injuries.

Ron Buchanan, acting assistant director for WorkSafeNB’s southwest region, cites several shortcomings. For example, the gable of the structure was inadequately braced, and the trusses were too short and braced perpendicularly, not diagonally. “The lumber used for bracing was of insufficient size and length, and was inadequately nailed. The spacing distance between the lines of lateral bracing at the truss top cord was beyond normal limits,” Buchanan reports.

Another safety lapse was that Ranieri and Israel were not wearing any protective gear, says Greg Forestell, the province’s chief coroner, based in Fredericton.

Buchanan visited the site, but finding no one there, moved on to another site. No one was available “to take responsibility if we found deficiencies,” says Forestell. By the time Buchanan had returned to the site, the fall had happened.

Although a building inspector had visited the site a dozen times, no safety violations were noted. Buchanan says that may be because a building inspector looks at the end product for quality, not at “how the building was being built or the safety aspect of that building.”

One jury recommendation calls for building inspectors and field engineers to obtain basic knowledge of the OH&S Act so as to help with identifying potential breaches.

Members of the inquest jury also suggested that both building inspection employees and WorkSafeNB field officers have the authority to restrict access to a work site that appears to be unoccupied if any perception of non-compliance with the building code or OH&S Act exists. This restriction should apply until a stop-work order can be issued.

The incident also sheds light on the lack of communication between WorkSafeNB and the city with regard to issuing building permits, the jury notes. At present, WorkSafeNB is not notified of building permits issued by the city. “If they don’t know a building is going up, how can they be proactive” in scheduling inspections? Forestell asks.

The jury recommends that copies of building permits for non-residential projects should be sent to WorkSafeNB which, upon being notified, establishes a site visit schedule to ensure compliance with New Brunswick’s OH&S Act.

My opinion

Here we have another province showing that there are lapses in their lines of defence dealing with a safety work environment. A building inspector with a broad knowledge of the construction industry including;

a) Assembly of the frame including an understanding of all stress requirements under the ‘Building Code’
b) Understanding of construction applications with the ‘Electrical Code’
c) ‘Fall Protection’ requirements
d) Training requirements in their jurisdiction

The more information the inspector has at his/her fingertips the better the inspector can be in finding violations.

I realize that a building inspector is not the same as a safety inspector BUT it will be one thing for them to receive special training and fix certain problems under their control before a critical injury or death occur on a jobsite.

Remember — In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Fall Protection’ and Working at Heights’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at info@hrsgroup.com

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

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