OHS Canada Magazine

Construction worker dies after 18-metre fall

SASKATOON (Canadian OH&S News)


SASKATOON (Canadian OH&S News)
 

A construction worker at a mine site in Saskatchewan has died following an estimated 18-metre fall.

The incident occurred in the early morning hours of July 13 at the Agrium Inc. potash mine near Vanscoy, Saskatchewan, about 25 kilometres southwest of Saskatoon. The employee was working for PCL Constructors Inc. Details of the investigation, including the cause of the fall, remain under investigation.

Ray Anthony, director of safety services with Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Labour Relations & Workplace Safety, said that the department has launched an investigation into the matter, but will not be providing any information regarding specifics of the incident, including whether or not any orders have been issued. In general terms, the investigation will focus on root causes and regulatory compliance, as are addressed in all investigations, Anthony said.

Mike Long, a spokesperson for PCL Constructors, added that the company is conducting its own internal investigation, but also would not comment on details of the incident. “We are focused on the families involved, supporting our workers and completing the investigations into this tragedy,” he said, adding that work was shut down on the site for a couple of days, but resumed on July 15.

In the past several years, Agrium Inc. has been the site of two separate workplace fatalities. On Aug. 31, 2006, an Agrium employee was seriously injured after he was injured by falling rock while operating a boring machine at the Vanscoy mine. The worker was operating on a clay seam a line near the ceiling of an underground room when about 900 kilograms of rock fell, severing his spinal column.

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The company was fined a total of $234,000 in 2008 (a $180,000 penalty plus a $54,000 fine surcharge) in connection with the incident after pleading guilty to failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare of its employee.

More recently on May 11, 2010, another worker was fatally injured at the mine. The 59-year-old worker was struck by a piece of equipment that had fallen six storeys. Following the incident, the labour department issued a hazard alert to all oh&s committees and mine managers ordering them to stop using the “single-sling pipe method,” whereby a sling is used to attach material to a pipe that is being lifted (COHSN May 24, 2010).

Agrium was fined $420,000 last year for failing to provide or maintain a system of work or working environment that ensured, as far as reasonably, practicable, the health, safety and welfare of a worker.