Blog Post #34 – Fatality Ends With Hefty Fine – Really, Alberta?

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine

The death of a 56 year old employee four years ago has resulted in an Alberta pipe-coating company receiving penalties totaling $300,000. Garneau Inc., based in Nisku, Alberta, was cited for breaching requirements of Alberta’s Occupational Health & Safety Act.

The deadly incident occurred in June, 2006. Sidney Edwards was working at Garneau’s facility in Camrose, Alberta.

An agreed statement of facts filed with the provincial court notes that large pieces of pipe — weighing between 4,773 kg. and 5,682 kg. — were being moved across a series of five racks. Each rack was equipped with a kicker, or a hydraulic piston that would allow a pipe to roll to the next rack. The tally operator was responsible for moving the pipe to the third rack, at which point Edwards was to transport the pipe to another rack.

At about 4:30 pm on June 13, 2006, the tally operator activated a kicker and this caused one or more pieces of pipe to roll toward the rack where Edwards was located. His head was crushed between two pieces of rolling pipe, resulting in fatal injuries.

Garneau pleaded guilty to failing to do the following:

1) Establish a system that would account for all workers before pieces of pipe were moved;
2) Implement a procedure to ensure that all racks are clear of workers before kickers are activated; and
3) Provide a notification to alert workers that a pipe is being moved.

The procedures that they had in place was insufficient to ensure that the pipe could be moved safely,” says Brian Caruk, acting chief Crown prosecutor for Alberta. Since the deadly incident, the company has implemented a series of measures to enhance employee protection.

Garneau was fined $10,000 and directed to provide $290,000 to the University of Alberta’s engineering program.

My opinion

You may, finally, be getting the message and will increasing the fines going forward. However, the “directed” $290,000 to the engineering department at the University of Alberta sounds like another example of how not to upset the companies out there. What time table has been set for payment? Is the “directed”monies set up enforceable. The only fine really listed here is one of $10,000. It makes one wonder how fast the engineering department sees the money, if any, now or in the future. Does this mean the official fine is really only $10,000? Really, what a joke!

Remember — In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

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

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