OAKVILLE, Nov. 28, 2014 Mike Gallagher, business manager of Local 793 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, says the $400,000 fine levied against a company involved in a fatal drill rig accident three years ago is not nearly enough to prevent a similar tragedy from occurring in future.
"This disastrous accident was much more deserving of the maximum fine of $500,000 that can be imposed on a corporation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act for such a fatality. In fact, the maximum fine should also be increased where gross negligence is involved so that it might act as a greater deterrent to companies that are intent on disregarding proper safety practices."
Gallagher said authorities must not lose sight of the fact that 24-year-old Kyle James Knox, a promising young apprentice with Local 793, lost his life Oct. 11, 2011 when the drill rig collapsed and toppled onto the backhoe he was operating at a construction site at York University in Toronto. Dan DeLuca, another union member, was also seriously injured and is permanently disabled.
The company, OHL-FCC GP Canada Inc., pleaded guilty to a charge under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and was fined in court Nov. 28.
Gallagher said such a fine will not provide any comfort or solace to the family of the young operator who was killed. He called on the government to adopt training standards that have been developed by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities and an industry committee of contractors, manufacturers and labour representatives, and also to make training mandatory for drill rig operators. Local 793 and the foundation and piling industry were instrumental in drawing attention to the issue and lobbying for the industry committee to be formed.
"We can prevent future disasters like this if we quickly legislate that only licensed, fully-trained operators be permitted to operate this equipment, changes which the industry committee of experts has proposed. We must move much more quickly when lives are endangered."
During the sentencing hearing, the Crown prosecutor noted that the site preparations were a significant factor in causing the accident and that site preparations on the day of the accident were inadequate.
An investigation determined that major factors in the tipping of the drill rig were inadequate site preparation, a soil base unable to withstand the weight and pressure created by the drill rig combined with a procedure of digging dispersal holes filled with wet material, and the fact the drill rig was operating on a slope greater than allowed within safe parameters.
Gallagher said he is encouraging industry stakeholders and the public to participate in the Ministry of Labour consultation process and support new training requirements that would better protect drill rig operators.
"Imposing mandatory training for drill rig operators would help to make construction sites safer and ensure such a tragedy does not happen again."
Local 793 of the International Union of Operating Engineers represents thousands of highly-skilled crane and heavy equipment operators across Ontario. The union has a head office, banquet hall and training campus in Oakville, and another training campus in Morrisburg.
SOURCE: International Union Of Operating Engineers - Local 793
For further information: Local 793 Business Manager Mike Gallagher, 905-469-9299, ext. 2202