OHS Canada Magazine

Construction firm fined $125K for 2018 worker death at Billy Bishop Airport

Vixman also sentenced to 18 months' probation by Ontario court


A construction worker died in March 2018 after falling from a walkway at Billy Bishop Airport in Toronto. (Lorne/Adobe Stock)

A construction company in Rockwood, Ont., has been fined $125,000 and sentenced to 18 months’ probation following a 2018 fatality at Billy Bishop Airport in Toronto.

The conviction came Jan. 16, according to a news release from the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development.

Vixman Construction failed to ensure measures and procedures of the Occupational Health and Safety Act were carried out, according to the ruling.

The incident occurred March 27, 2018 during construction of a corrugated steel sheet roof over a walkway from an airport gate to the tarmac.

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Two employees were working on the walkway, approximately 3.5 metres above the ground. Both were fitted with appropriate self-retracting lifelines (SRLs) attached to full-body harnesses.

While moving across an open area, Dean Maguire, a 60-year-old St. Catharines man extended his lifeline by about six metres from his anchor point — choked around an upright column supporting the roof structure.

His back to his SRL block, Maguire’s movements eventually pulled it over the edge of the installed sheeting. Attached to a vertical column rather than to a horizontal one, the block dropped until its mechanism engaged.

Maguire was pulled off the work surface, and because he was at a distance farther away from the SRL block than the height of the work surface, he fell to the ground and died.

The court found that the SRL had not been attached to a fixed support, and that the length of the extended lifeline over an open area was not a safe configuration of fall-protection equipment.

During the course of the probation order, Vixman shall not commit the same or any related offence, or any offence punishable by imprisonment, according to the court decision.

The company is also required to create promotional material to be used in training staff of fall-arrest procedures. The material will be dedicated to the memory of Maguire.

In the sentencing, justice of the peace Gregory John Fantino stated he felt “compelled to render a decision which deviates from the conventional deterrence and fine paradigm.”