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Construction worker dies in fall at Montreal’s Champlain Bridge

Dany Cléroux, 44, killed after platform overturns


(Canadian OH&S News) — A 44-year-old construction employee has been killed in a falling accident at a worksite at the Champlain Bridge in Montreal, where the platform he was on suddenly overturned on Sept. 15.

The Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CSST) has identified the victim as Dany Cléroux, a site foreman with Boisbriand-based construction firm Groupe TNT. The incident occurred at around noon that day at the bridge’s ice-control structure over the St. Lawrence River, according to information from the Sûreté du Québec (SQ), the provincial police force.

“He had a fall in the river when the platform on which he was placed overturned,” CSST spokesperson Maxime Boucher told COHSN. “Four manual chain blocks were used to lower down the platform on the barge,” he explained, adding that the platform had detached itself from the ice-control structure during the lowering, sending Cléroux plummeting.

Boucher noted that Cléroux, who had lived in the north-shore suburb of Ste-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, had been wearing a safety harness during two previous descents on the same platform that morning. “For this one, we don’t know,” he said, referring to the third descent. “The witnesses can’t tell us if he wore a harness at that time.”

Police were notified of the accident at about 12:20 p.m., and officers arrived at the scene shortly afterwards to help search for Cléroux, according to SQ spokesperson Sergeant Joyce Kemp.

“There were a lot of boats from the SQ, from the coast guard and the Montreal firefighters, and searches went on for a big part of the afternoon,” said Sgt. Kemp. “The SQ helicopter was also on the scene, along with the CSST members.

“He was found around 6:30 on the same day,” she added.

CSST is investigating the incident with the cooperation of SQ and TNT. “It’s too early to identify causes at the time,” said Boucher. “Our investigation is going to analyze all the equipment and their functions, the methods of work, the procedures.” This includes determining whether Cléroux wore a harness at the time of the accident, he added.

TNT declined to give any media interviews about the accident, but issued a public statement on Sept. 16, saying that the event and its aftermath had been “very difficult” for the company and its staff.

“Dany Cléroux was a very well-liked, competent and experienced site foreman who applied a safety-first approach,” the firm stated. “He had worked for Groupe TNT for over 10 years. His passing is a heavy loss for his family and loved ones, but as well for all his work colleagues and the company.”

TNT added that it had mobilized all of its internal resources to provide support, guidance and “psychological assistance” to Cléroux’ family, his co-workers and their families. “Groupe TNT would like to stress that it considers its employees to be its primary resource and that their health and safety lie firmly at the heart of the company’s values,” said the firm.

“I lost the man of my life today,” Cléroux’ wife, Dominique Nantel, wrote on her Facebook page following the tragedy. “My accomplice, my love, forever and ever. You will always be in my heart. I love you, Dany, and I miss you already,”

Quebec construction union FTQ-Construction also paid its respects to Cléroux on Facebook. “Our condolences to Dany Cléroux’ family,” the organization wrote on Sept. 17, above a photo of Cléroux.

The province’s construction sector has seen a lot of safety incidents over the past two years, according to Boucher. Last year alone, there were 15 fatalities at Quebec construction sites.

“It’s around 6,300 accidents,” said Boucher, again referring to 2014. “In falls, it’s about 700 per year.”