PRIDDIS, Alta. (Canadian OH&S News)
Just shy of her 30th birthday, a construction worker was killed after attempting to lift a wall that proved to be too heavy, Alberta’s occupational health and safety department has determined.
At about quarter to nine in the morning on April 11 in the rural community of Priddis, just southwest of Calgary, workers were erecting a wall of a house on a rural property. Four of the construction workers had been attempting to raise up one of the walls, but were not able to muster the strength to get it all the way up.
“They weren’t able to support the weight of the wall,” explained Brookes Merritt, spokesperson for the occupational health and safety division of Alberta’s Human Services Department. “Three of the workers stepped away from the falling wall, and one worker was trapped underneath as it fell.”
The worker succumbed to her injuries and died on site. The RCMP initially responded to the scene, but after determining that there was nothing criminal about the incident, turned it over to the provnice’s occupational health and safety office, Merritt went on to say.
His team also issued an immediate stop-work order to the employer, which is listed as a numbered company, 938769 Alberta Limited, a framing company.
Rick Bonneau, who is a spokesperson for the prime contractor involved, Brad-Mar Homes, based in Calgary, said that the loss of the worker was a tragedy.
“Brad-Mar Homes is deeply saddened by this tragic accident. Though this young woman was not our employee but rather an employee of another company, we would like to offer our condolences to the family. Our prayers are with them. Brad-Mar Homes will continue to fully co-operate with OHS officials,” Bonneau said in an email statement.
Awareness of construction safety increasing
Though there have been indications that construction safety awareness is on the upswing, an event such as this is a testament to how important safety on a construction site is to workers.
Dan MacLennan is the executive director of the Alberta Safety Construction Association, an industry-funded organization that does construction and safety training across the province. He said that “safety training is up, but any incident like this particularly is horrific, and your feelings go out to the family first and foremost.” He added that his team is “training in record numbers with a goal of reducing incidents of workplace harm of all kinds. We’ve seen over 100,000 students in this year alone, and the numbers are starting to increase.”
The occupational health and safety department’s investigation is currently ongoing. Merritt added that their next steps are to question those workers who were at the scene. The interview process was initially held off because the witnesses were quite shaken up.