OHS Canada Magazine

News

PotashCorp fined $280,000 after worker’s death in 2012

Saskatchewan company pleaded guilty to oh&s charge


(Canadian OH&S News) — The Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (PCS) has been fined $280,000 in connection with the death of a worker in June 2012.

PCS was fined on Oct. 21 after pleading guilty to one count of failing to comply with occupational health and safety legislation pertaining to the health, safety and welfare of their workers.

Laura McKnight, communications consultant with Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, told COHSN that three other charges were withdrawn, including the following:
* Failing to ensure that a worker did not remain within range of powered mobile equipment;
* Failing to ensure that every accessible section of a belt conveyor was equipped with a pull cord that reaches from the head pulley to the tail pulley or another device approved by the chief mines inspector that is capable of stopping the conveyor in the case of an emergency; and
* Failing to ensure that a temporary belt conveyor was equipped with pull cords or emergency stop controls, and that these controls were located to maximize their effective use.

Worker was dragged into a conveyor
Charges were laid against the company on Sept. 12, 2013, following the June 25, 2012 death of Chris Reid. The 28-year-old employee at PCS’ Allan mine site near Saskatoon was caught and dragged into a conveyor while working underground, according to Local 7689 of the United Steelworkers Canada union, of which he was a member.

At the time of the incident, the maximum penalty for corporations who were convicted of offences that caused serious injuries or fatalities was $300,000. McKnight said that the Saskatchewan Employment Act, which was proclaimed in April 2014, has now increased the penalty amount to $1.5 million for corporations and $500,000 for individuals.

The latest penalty was not the first conviction for oh&s violations at a Saskatchewan potash mine. In May 2012, Agrium Inc. was fined $300,000, plus a $120,000 victim fine surcharge, after pleading guilty to failing to provide or maintain a working environment that ensured the health, safety and welfare of a worker (COHSN, June 4, 2012). Agrium had a previous similar conviction, in connection with an incident in 2006 in which a worker was seriously injured in a rock fall.

The 2012 conviction was the result of a May 2010 fatality that claimed the life of Edward Artic, who had worked at Agrium’s Vanscoy site for more than 10 years. Artic was inside a hoist well when a component fell six storeys from a load being lifted by an overhead crane and struck him in the head, killing him instantly.

The labour ministry said in a press release that it recommends prosecutions in cases where individuals or companies refuse to comply with the provisions of legislation, or where significant risk of injury to workers is present as a result of non-compliance.

Since April 1, there have been 38 convictions for oh&s violations, totalling more than $454,570 in fines, the ministry reported.