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.


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.

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5 Comments » for Construction worker dies after 18-metre fall
  1. kevin Milligan says:

    I take great concern in that we have already this year killed more people in Saskatchewan than we did all of last year. The Government has past legislation where OH&S Officers can hand out Summary Offense Tickets for violations around the Act & Regulations, but has yet to roll this out as a result of Industry Pressure, which gives me Greater Concern.
    In some industries in this Province they don’t even know what the Act & Regulations are and they give you a look of speaking an unknown language when it is mentioned.
    If we are to change a culture we need to hold people accountable and the only form of motivation in this booming economy seems to be monetary. We seem to be allowing Industry to dictate their terms and as Mother’s & Father’s of the children working within these industries we should be the ones delivering the terms. It’s not like we are asking them to operate to a completely new standard, the Act & Regulations has been around a long time, but they have just basically ignored their responsibilities at the cost of out Grandfathers, Grandmothers, Fathers & Mothers, Son & Daughters.
    Time the Government stood up and did the right thing regardless of how it may affect them politically and protect the workers of this Province. Time to get Brad Wall to sign the Mission Zero Charter and Back what has to be done! Thank you!

  2. Safety pro says:

    As both an employer rep and a safety proffesional for20 years, many are in a catch 22 with the law and worker rights. The mines have great safety programs as well as dedicated people dealing with these issues. However when we reprimand employees for not following rules or safety laws it ends up in a fight with the unions and other self centered people in the system. Now that oh and s can give out fines personally to employees, we can maybe start to see all parties being held accountable for their actions. The goverment under Mr Wall has done more for safety than the previous one, I do however wish that there was more enforcent officers on the ground to make everyone aware of their safety responsibilities. Pcl has an amazing safety program and I personally know many people over there that are very affected by this tragedy and however tragic, unplanned events still happen. We as a province have the second worst safety record in Canada,we are and will turn that around, and as stats show we are inproving.

    • CFon says:

      You, sir.. either work for PCL it are out of touch with reality. The solution is to hold employers responsible for their lack of due diligence, which in many cases results in the fatality of a worker and a menial fine in comparison to the life that was lost. Now unless you’ve never worked in the field before you should know that workers are asked BY supervision to complete tasks that are unsafe, or face a layoff or otherwise. The hands of the corporation and their delegates are the bloodiest out there.

    • Ex PCL Safety Coordinator says:

      As a former PCL safety coordinator who was let go for trying to enforce their own policies and procedures, i can say that PCL may appear to have an excellent safety program BUT it is mostly smoke and mirrors! They cater to certain trades, turn their heads when it suits them and let’s people go when they do “push back”. I’m not saying this as a disgruntled employee because after what I saw my own integrity would have caused me to quit anyway. They appear to have a good safety record stacked against man hours however even 1 preventable fatality is one too many and PCL has had several in recent years. Only 1 thing works where coaching and behavior modification fails and that is equal enforcement for all workers in violation of policy or regulations. Give your head a shake “fatal incidents” don’t happen, they are caused and essentially not stopped or prevented due to negligence. PCL = people come last!!!

      • Jeff says:

        As for most companies operating in the commercial and light industrial sectors, they all put the fake safety front on. They talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. I personally and professionally will stand true to a company’s safety program and enforce its policies and OHS standards. I operate the ‘what if’ and push that thought into all my workers. I hold them personally responsible just as much as the corporation does. We must hold the workers responsible as well. Think of this…. If a child behaves poorly, do you discipline them or yourself? Same on the job… If you are a supervisor, you will understand.

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