(Canadian OH&S News) — Following its conviction for violating five sections of the province’s Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Transportation and Works has been ordered to pay fines totalling $90,000.
Judge Lynn E. Cole handed down the sentence at the Provincial Court of Newfoundland and Labrador in Stephenville on Dec. 22, according to court documents obtained by COHSN. The conviction stemmed from an accident that had resulted in the death of a line painter on the Trans Canada Highway more than three years before.
Wayne Wall, 40, was working with a paint crew on the highway on the west coast of Newfoundland, about two kilometres west of Flat Bay, on the morning of July 23, 2013. As the workers were preparing to paint a “yield” indicator on the eastbound lane, a pickup truck struck and killed Wall, while reportedly hospitalizing another Department employee (COHSN, July 29, 2013). Two people in the truck were also injured.
Two years to the day after the incident, Service NL, the governmental branch that overlooks occupational health and safety in the province, charged the Department of Transportation with eight violations of oh&s law (COHSN, July 28, 2015).
In her written decision, Judge Cole sentenced the Department to pay a $15,000 fine, plus a 15 per cent victim fine surcharge, within 90 days. The Department was also ordered to set aside another $75,000, partly to pay for a third-party safety audit of its traffic-control programs and partly as donations to WorkplaceNL and Threads of Life; the former is the province’s workers’ compensation authority, and the latter is a national organization that assists families of victims of workplace tragedy.
“The safety audit is to be conducted by an independent safety consultant mutually agreeable to the Department of Transportation and Works and the occupational health and safety branch of Service NL,” wrote Judge Cole, referring to the province’s labour ministry.
“The Department… is to implement any recommendations made as a result of the safety audit, including [the provision of] any further training to staff identified,” she added. The audit is to be completed by the end of July, with recommendations implemented within the following six months.
The donation amount will equal $75,000 minus the cost of the audit. 25 per cent of it will go to fund the development of WorkplaceNL curriculum materials on traffic control for safety courses in high schools, and the remaining three-quarters will go to Threads of Life.
“Such payment shall be made within 90 days of the completion of the audit,” wrote Judge Cole.
The judge’s decision was reportedly an acceptance of a cooperative proposal by the opposing lawyers in the case, Mike King and Randy Piercey. King was the Crown Attorney, while Piercey was the advocate for the Department of Transportation.
Local media reports cited Piercey as stating that the Department’s guilty plea had never been in dispute and that he hoped this decision would prevent similar accidents in the future.
Wall was a resident of Cape Ray, a small fishing community on the southwest coast of Newfoundland.