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Manufacturing worker, 50, dies in Edmonton falling accident

Accident occurred in spite of fall-protection equipment


(Canadian OH&S News) — An employee of a steel-manufacturing plant in south Edmonton was killed after falling from a dangerous height on the early evening of Jan. 19.

The 50-year-old victim, who worked for CESSCO Fabrication and Manufacturing Ltd., was on a Genie lift at the top of a tank when the accident occurred at about 6 p.m., according to Christine Wronko, a media spokesperson for Alberta’s Ministry of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour.

“He was doing some welding on the top of the tank, and somehow, for whatever reason, he fell off,” said Wronko, “just under six metres to the ground below.”

The worker suffered critical injuries and died on the way to the hospital, Wronko added. Media reports have stated that he died of a head injury.

The Edmonton Police Service (EPS) responded to the accident at approximately 6:30, and occupational health and safety representatives from the Ministry received a call about an hour after the incident. EPS information officer Anna Batchelor confirmed to COHSN that police officers had attended the scene, but could not release further details, as the police did not deem the incident to be criminal in nature.

“Police were called to the company,” said Batchelor, “on the report of an accident, but that was the conclusion of EPS involvement.”

Oh&s officials have since taken over the investigation.

Wronko noted that the worker had been wearing fall-protection equipment at the time of the tragedy. “Part of the investigation will be, obviously, to try and determine what happened,” she said. “But we understand he was wearing fall protection.”

A Jan. 20 announcement on CESSCO’s website acknowledged that the accident had occurred, noting that the company was conducting its own internal investigation in addition to the Ministry’s. The company also stated that the Ministry and EPS had released the area of the incident back to the employer after investigating it.

CESSCO president and general manager Don McFarlane declined to comment directly to COHSN, but did release a general press statement on the day following the fatality.

“While we are assisting with the ongoing investigation,” said McFarlane, “our primary focus at this time is providing any necessary assistance to the family and the well-being of our employees.”

Founded in 1948, CESSCO specializes in steel fabrication, producing pressure vessels and custom-fabricated equipment for the oil and gas, petrochemical, pulp and paper, power and mining sectors, according to information from its website.

Although it is too early to determine what led to this fatality, it is worth noting that fall-protection equipment must be inspected on a regular basis, to ensure that it is still working properly. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) in Hamilton, Ont. advises employers and workers to inspect fall-protection gear before every use, replace any defective equipment immediately and have a trained and competent person inspect and recertify all equipment at least once a year.

“Basic care prolongs the life of the unit and contributes to its performance,” CCOHS notes on its website. “Store [fall-protection equipment] in a clean, dry area, free of fumes, sunlight, corrosive materials, sharp edges or vibration and in such a way that it does not warp or distort the belt.” The site also recommends keeping fall-protection gear clean and dry.