Excerpt from the OH&S Canada Magazine
DSI Mill Construction Ltd. has been levied a hefty fine in connection with the death of a 70-year-old worker in Alberta four years ago.
A $350,750 penalty was ordered in January after the company pleaded guilty to failing to ensure a written hazard assessment for fall protection on a rolling scaffold was available to workers, says AEII spokesperson Stephanie Francis.
The penalty is made up of a $5,000 fine, $750 victim fine surcharge and a $345,000 payment to the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Engineering’s safety and risk management program. “The facts that were put before the court in relation to that one count fully described the misconduct of the company,” says Crown prosecutor Brian Caruk. Ten additional counts were withdrawn.
The fine follows an accident at a pulp mill in Mitsue, Alberta on May 29, 2004. Donald Gullickson was fatally injured when he fell 4.3 metres from a rolling scaffold onto a concrete pad below.
An agreed statement of facts notes, on that day, DSI Mill Construction was beginning to install a new log feeder at the mill. The process required erecting a steel support structure for the deck of a new log in-feed area.
Gullickson and a co-worker were welding beams on the installation that had been moved into position using a crane. They were using a modified rolling scaffold platform, which was not equipped with guardrails, as a work area to finalize beam installation. No steps had been taken to ensure the wheels on the scaffold were locked.
At about 4:30 pm, while the scaffold was being moved or within a few seconds of the movement stopping, the agreed statement notes, Gullickson fell. He was subsequently pronounced dead.
“Gullickson has been wearing a full-body, five-point fall-arrest harness equipped with a 1.2-metre lanyard, but he was not tied off to any anchor point.”
The law(s) in contravention:
DSI Mill Construction Ltd. should have been found guilty of violating section 139(1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Code 2009 which states,
“ An employer must ensure that a worker is protected from falling at a temporary or permanent work area if a worker may fall,
(a) a vertical distance of 3 metres or more,
(b) a vertical distance of less than 3 metres if there is an unusual possibility of injury, or
(c) into or onto a hazardous substance or object, or through an opening in
a work surface.”
Section 139 (3) also states,
139(3) To meet the requirement under subsection (1), an employer must install an engineering control such as a guardrail.
I researched this one and found, yet again, Alberta not able to deal with the troubles on the job. Here we find a worker not protected with the appropriate guard rail system, as designed by the scaffold manufacturer, and the worker dies. 70 years old! I bet he had been on scaffolding for most of his life and never once required the guard rails system to be in place.
I do not have a problem with the large settlement but let us look closer to the final solution.
The total fine was only $5,000 with a victim fine surcharge of only $750.00 added on. Deplorable! Then we see a ‘Contribution’ of “$345,000 payment to the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Engineering’s safety and risk management program.” Unbelievable! $5,750 to be paid now and $345,000 to be paid whenever! Not much of a deterrent if you ask me!
Here we have a 70 year old still on the job and never to know a peaceful and long term retirement. Why was he still there? Why was he not protected? Only the province of Alberta knows why they continue to ignore the safety of their workforce.
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 ‘Fall Protection’ and Working at Heights’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.
Remember – Alberta Health and Safety – An Oxymoron!
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP — Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.