OHS Canada Magazine

N.B. coroner’s inquest releases recommendations to improve workplace safety for bridge construction, maintenance

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November 15, 2022
By OHS Canada

Health & Safety Bridges Coroner's Inquest New Brunswick

A jury at a coroner’s inquest in New Brunswick has made recommendations to improve the safety of those who work in bridge construction and maintenance.

An inquest into the death of James Martin was held Nov. 8-9 at the Burton Law Courts. Martin died on Aug. 29, 2019, from injuries sustained while working for the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure.

Jury recommendations

The five-member jury heard from eight witnesses and made two recommendations:

  • All employees involved in bridge construction and maintenance must be trained in all aspects of health and safety pertaining to bridge construction and maintenance. An accountability system must be in place for all employees who do not comply with the standards.
  • Complete daily morning inspections of work site hazards and ensure safety measures are in place to address hazards.

Coroner recommendations

The following recommendations were made by the presiding coroner:

  • The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure must have an ongoing awareness campaign focused on safety culture on work sites. The “see something, do something” frame of mind should be embraced by employees, regardless of their employment status (casual, part time, full time, contract).
  • The department must clearly designate who shall assign tasks on a work site and that a formal delegation of work is done. This will ensure that proper followup on assigned tasks is completed.
  • The department must prepare an updated bridge-building manual. This manual should include directives on employee safety. Employee training should be provided with the manual, and a refresher must be done annually.
  • The department must require that employees working on a bridge, regardless of their employment type (such as casual, term and full time), be certified and competent working at heights.

These recommendations will be forwarded to the appropriate agencies for consideration and response, the Government of New Brunswick said in a press release. The response will be included in the chief coroner’s annual report for 2022.


Under the Coroners Act, a coroner shall hold an inquest when a worker dies as a result of an accident occurring in the course of his or her employment at or in a woodland operation, sawmill, lumber processing plant, food processing plant, fish processing plant, construction project site, mining plant or mine, including a pit or quarry.

An inquest is a formal court proceeding that allows for the public presentation of all evidence relating to a death. It does not make any finding of legal responsibility nor does it assign blame. However, recommendations can be made aimed at preventing deaths under similar circumstances in the future.


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