Blog Post #472 – Packer Operator Found Dead

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine

A road worker with Alberta’s Lacombe County was operating machinery when he died from unknown causes on June 19, 2010.

The county identified the worker as Robert Ray, an equipment operator who had been an employee for 12 years. The incident occurred at 11:30 am while a work crew was repairing a county road, says AEI spokesperson Chris Chodan.

The worker “had been driving a large packer which had left the roadway and rolled onto its side,” reports Staff Sergeant Gord Glasgow, a member of the RCMP’s Red Deer Rural detachment, which, along with local firefighters and emergency medical personnel, attended the scene.

The Cat 563 packer has a large front wheel that features metal knobs used “to compact the earth in road construction projects,” says Glasgow. Chodan notes a stop-use order was issued on the packer pending a mechanical inspection.

Phil Lodermeier, manager of operations for Lacombe County, says Ray’s death may have been caused by a health problem that manifested while he was operating the machinery. Lodermeier reports that Ray, uncharacteristically, kept driving the unit up and down the road. He would also stop and rub his head.

The packer “veered suddenly off the road into an area that he would have no reason to be,” Glasgow says.

My opinion

The final result may or may not have found exactly what was wrong with the fellow. Knowing the way work is completed in Alberta, the worker may have been driven to complete the task instead of resting if he felt ill.

My point is that Alberta does not see the benefit of supervision in the workplace. In Ontario, the worker would have the right to refuse unsafe work and place the onus on his/her supervisor to investigate and, hopefully, ensure that changes are made to provide the safety needed.

So many die on the work-site. Many do not need to be if hazards were properly identified, assessed and controlled. As well, the enforcement of the law is necessary to provide proper protection. This is one area the province of Alberta fails their workforce, ENFORCEMENT!

Remember – In Canada, “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’, ‘Construction Safety Awareness’ 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 

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

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

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