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Investigation into falling rack fatality continues

(Canadian OH&S News) -- The occupational health and safety division of Alberta’s Ministry of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour continues to investigate an Aug. 1 accident in which a falling rack impaled a 62-year-old steelworker,...


(Canadian OH&S News) — The occupational health and safety division of Alberta’s Ministry of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour continues to investigate an Aug. 1 accident in which a falling rack impaled a 62-year-old steelworker, killing him.

According to information from the ministry, the worker, an employee of Capital Steel Inc. in Edmonton, was loading solid steel rods by hand onto an outdoor rack at about 11 a.m. that day. The rack suddenly fell on him, impaling him in the hip and pinning him.

The local Emergency Medical Services was called to the site and transported the worker to Edmonton’s University of Alberta Hospital, where he died at about 3 a.m. the following morning.

Oh&s authorities immediately issued a stop-use order to Capital Steel on the company’s outdoor racking; the order will remain in effect “as long as it needs to be, so that we can conduct our investigation and be satisfied that the racks are being used in a safe manner,” said ministry oh&s spokesperson Barrie Harrison.

“Our job is to not only find out what happened here,” Harrison added, “but obviously take whatever steps need to be taken to help ensure that it doesn’t happen, not only at this location, but at any other facility that operates in a similar fashion.”

Capital Steel declined to comment on the incident for the time being “because it’s still under investigation,” a source with the firm told COHSN.

Harrison said that reports to the ministry of falling steel racks pinning workers are not common or typical. “Certainly there are a number of industries that are more prone to work-related incidents than others,” he explained, “and obviously, the steel industry is one that can be prone, just given the type of work that’s being conducted.”

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, based in Hamilton, Ont., offers general tips on maintaining loading/unloading racks on its website’s sample inspection checklist for manufacturing facilities. Among the items to check are whether:

* Steps, railings and retractable ramps on elevated levels are in good shape;

* There are leaks in piping and inline equipment;

* Loading arms are working properly;

* Submerged filling two-stage valves are working well;

* There are breaks or damage in bonding and grounding cables;

* Connections are tight and sound; and

* Wiring and junction boxes are in good shape.

Founded in 1974, Capital Steel supplies structural steel, stairs and railings for construction projects. The company has worked on several Edmonton landmarks, including the Edmonton International Airport’s recent expansion and the Old Strathcona Gate, according to its website.