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Ontario jury calls for safety improvements


April 6, 2016
By Kevin Cunningham

A coroner’s inquest into the 2013 death of an Ontario worker involving a tower crane has resulted in 18 recommendations for safety improvements, according to news reports.

Nick Lalonde, a 23-year-old bricklayer from London, Ont., was killed in the Oct. 11, 2013 incident at a construction site at 185 King St. North in Waterloo, Ont.  He fell several storeys onto a scaffold after being hit by a skid of bricks that the crane was lifting, according to reports from the Waterloo Region Record and CTV News.

Following a three-day inquest, the jury made its recommendations Jan. 29. Eleven of the recommendations were directed at Ontario’s Ministry of Labour. They included hiring more inspectors, increasing the number of “proactive” inspections of construction sites, conducting a crane safety blitz, and including crane operation and signalling in training, the Record reported.

The jury also made recommendations of Maison Canada, the main contractor, such as to develop a health and safety policy that includes disciplinary measures. The jury recommended that subcontractor Central Construction, which did the brickwork, also develop a health and safety policy with disciplinary measures.

The Record reported that the victim’s mother, Julie Lalonde, had said in a statement before the jury gave its recommendations that her son’s death could have been prevented “with more strict safety measures in place and most importantly enforced by the persons who employed my son.”

Maison Canada Holdings Ltd. was earlier fined $120,000 in the matter after pleading guilty to safety violations. Central Construction was fined $90,000. Both companies were also assessed a 25 per cent mandatory victim surcharge.

At the inquest, the jury heard that Lalonde “had no place to fasten a security rope and workers signalling the crane operator were not properly trained,” the Record reported. An earlier report from the ministry said Lalonde was trained in fall-protection but was not wearing any fall-protection equipment at the time.

The coroner’s jury also heard that Lalonde and others had expressed safety concerns about the site, CTV News reported.

According to an earlier news release from the Ministry of Labour, the crane had lifted the skid, which carried blocks weighing about 3,500 pounds, to the roof and placed it onto wood planking. The skid was placed at an angle, causing a potential hazard. So the workers decided to re-strap the load, lift it up and out, and re-land it flat on the roof, the ministry reported.

“The load then suddenly propelled toward an exterior parapet wall that surrounded the roof top,” the report said.

“The young worker was situated between the parapet wall and the skid of blocks; the worker hung on to the skid of blocks, which proceeded to trolley out, and crashed through the exterior parapet wall, knocking the worker from the roof top,” the report added.

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