OHS Canada Magazine

Contractor in New Brunswick fined for bridge collapse that sent crane into Canaan River

March 25, 2024
By By Andrew Bates, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Health & Safety

Construction crane on sunset. Photo: Adobe Stock

A Fredericton contractor has been fined $7,500 related to a 2022 collapse that sent a crane and its operator into the Canaan River.

Caldwell & Ross Ltd. appeared through a lawyer and pleaded guilty Monday in Saint John Provincial Court to a charge of failing to provide information necessary to ensure an employee’s health and safety under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The firm was charged in January for a Feb. 22, 2022, incident during construction on a bridge replacement project on Route 10 in Coles Island. At 2 p.m. that day, an operator was using a crane located on a temporary trestle bridge to move a large power unit, according to Crown prosecutor Chris Titus.

“He was almost done moving the power unit when the bridge exterior girders underneath the crane failed, causing the crane to topple 15 feet into icy waters,” Titus said, adding that it became entangled in a power line.

The operator was partially submerged inside the crane, and “was able to climb out from the cab, using some pieces of timber that had fallen into the water, made it to safety,” Titus said, calling him “extremely lucky” to avoid injury.


Titus said that the trestle was over-stressed by 72 per cent due to the crane’s angle at the time of the collapse. Lawyer John Bujold, who represented Caldwell & Ross, said that a limit on extending the crane’s boom had been exceeded by the operator, who had “proper training.”

Bujold said the incident resulted in more than $300,000 in costs to Caldwell & Ross. At the time, Brunswick News reported that it led to a power outage that affected 241 people.

Titus said the joint sentence recommendation was a $7,500 fine, based on factors including size of the company and harm to the public as laid out in case law, with no victim fine surcharge.

Judge Kelly Ann Winchester accepted the recommendation and fined the company $7,500, payable by April 2. A second charge of failing to take every reasonable precaution to protect the health and safety of employees was withdrawn.

On March 1, provincial spokesperson Tyler McLean said the north and south bridges reopened to two-lane traffic on Dec. 20, with the section between the bridges on single-lane traffic to allow for equipment removal, with paving of the approaches also scheduled.

The site is scheduled to open in June, McLean said at the time.

– With files from Catherine Morrison


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