Blog Post #164 – Reservoir Fall Claims Worker

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine

A 57 year old municipal worker in Montreal died after falling into an empty reservoir on April 22, 2010.

The incident occurred around 9:00am at a city of Montreal water treatment plant on the west end of the island, reports Patricia Darilus, a spokesperson for the Commission de la santé et de la securite du travail (CSST) in Montreal.

Darilus says the veteran employee — identified by his union and the city as Pierre LeClerc, was situated between two reservoirs submerged in the ground when he fell. Two co-workers were in an empty tank in front of LeClerc, cleaning it with a hose that he had been unrolling.

Walking backwards, LeClerc stumbled on the seven-centimetre lip of the second reservoir, Darilus reports. He fell backwards into an empty tank and hit the bottom six metres below, dying at the scene. The reservoir covers were not on, she says.

The CSST issued a stop work order to the City of Montreal, which was not lifted until the inspectors completed their onsite investigation and until the city provided safe work procedures for working around the tanks.

Darilus notes that when workers fall, measures such as guardrails or fall restraint/arrest systems must be in place.

Phillippe Sabourin, a spokesperson for the city, says LeClerc was a foreman who had worked for Montreal for 34 years and was nearing retirement. Counselling services were offered to those affected by the deadly incident.

Darilus notes that in 2009 there were 744 fall incidents in Montreal alone, resulting in four deaths.

My opinion

4 deaths are 4 too many! There are sufficient safeguards and training and equipment to have prevented all 5, including this particular incident. I am concerned, however, that if the City of Montreal cannot get their safety environment correct then where is the motivation for private companies to get the message.

Here in Ontario, we have numerous ‘Fall Protection’ sections of different sector regulations, none as big as those described in section 26 of the ‘Construction’ sector regulation 213/91.

If the City of Montreal would like to review my blogs then they should look at ‘Fall Protection’ miniseries I have provided. There are a few in the September and October time frames that can be used to aid in them developing an action plan to deal with any and all of the ‘Fall Protection’ needs in their workplace environment.

It seems Ms Darilus has her hands full.

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.

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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