Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine

Two separate accidents in mid-March became the first fatal work-related incidents registered in Newfoundland and Labrador in 2010.

On March 20 at about 9:45 am, a 59-year-old man died when the excavator he was operating lost traction and slid into a frozen pond. Just two days earlier, on the afternoon of March 18, two men fell approximately seven metres from a platform at an Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC) mine in Labrador City. One worker succumbed to his injuries, while the other was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

With regard to the March 20 incident, Newfoundland and Labrador RCMP Sergeant Wayne Newell reports that the excavator operator had worked for a company contracted by Newfoundland Power Inc. He was helping to re-install power line poles damaged during a recent ice storm, says Newell.

He says the worker was traversing the area near the edge of the pond when the vehicle crashed through about 40 centimetres of ice, trapping him inside the cabin.

Firefighters in cold-water immersion suits retrieved the operator’s body from the cabin an hour and a half later.

In the IOC incident, Eldon Perry and Joshua Hayse were rushed to hospital, but only Hayse survived, notes a company statement. “IOC is working together with the appropriate authorities on the investigation of this incident and is deeply committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of our employees.”

Vanessa Colman-Sadd, a spokesperson for Newfoundland and Labrador’s Department of Government Services, says provincial officers are investigating both deadly incidents.

My opinion

One of the first thing you learn in around excavations is to complete a tailgate meeting, assessing the appropriate hazards attributed to the particular excavation, and placing controls in place to eliminate or to protect the workforce.

Here we find ice as the culprit. How many people can predict, to a millimetre, the thickness of the ice? Now, there are many outdoor enthusiasts  who can tell you otherwise, but I have to ask you this, “Would you trust your life to it?” I think not!

Whatever the case, please ensure that any and all hazards have been identified, assessed and controlled prior to any workers arrive at the work-site. That is the law!

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 ‘Due Diligence’, ‘Cold Stress’ and ‘Standard Operating Procedures’. 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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