By Shurtz, Delon on November 7, 2020.
A Lethbridge home manufacturing company has been fined $135,000 after one of its employees was struck and seriously injured while working more than three years ago.
Triple M Housing was fined Friday in Lethbridge provincial court, where the company’s lawyer pleaded guilty to one count under the Occupational Health and Safety Act of failing to ensure the health and safety of a worker.
Angela Entz, who was 37 years old at the time of the accident on May 15, 2017, was struck by a steel roof truss stand that had fallen from a mezzanine while she cut drywall panels more than six metres below. Entz sustained a broken neck and fractured leg, spent four months in hospital, and is now a quadriplegic.
Entz and members of her family attended court Friday, where Entz read aloud her victim impact statement describing how the tragic incident impacted, and continues to impact, her life. She told the judge she struggled to find her own words, but chose instead the lyrics to the song Devine Intervention, by American metal band, Slayer, to describe her feelings.
“In a web like hell,” she read. “Want to scream, but cannot speak … in my mind is only pain … victimized … deathless torture … shattered shrine of flesh and bone … no mercy, no reason, just pain.”
Reading from an agreed statement of facts, Crown Prosecutor Jasmine Grewal said Entz was working in an unprotected area normally designated as a walking area. Don McDonald, lead hand for the ceiling unit, was operating the gantry crane in the mezzanine above Entz, where he was preparing to attach the crane to a roof truss. The crane collided with two truss stands, knocking one of them over a guard rail, which fell onto Entz.
Entz was rushed to Chinook Regional Hospital and airlifted to Foothills Hospital in Calgary where she remained until Sept. 15.
Grewal pointed out McDonald provided a urine sample for a drug and alcohol test, and it revealed a high enough level of cannabis to indicate McDonald violated Triple M’s drug and alcohol policy. The test, however, only identifies past use of the drug and does not determine impairment, Grewal added.
“As a result, it is not possible to determine if Mr. McDonald was impaired at the time of the incident,” Grewal said. “Mr. McDonald’s positive urine test in this case is evidence that there was significantly increased risk that Mr. McDonald was not fit for work at the time of this incident.”
Grewal also noted there were no formal procedures for the placement of the stands, and they were in a direct line with the gantry crane, yet no one had assessed the risk.
Edmonton lawyer Jennifer Miller pointed out the stands were not normally placed in the area of the crane, and no one knows how the crane hit them. She said the company has taken steps to prevent such an accident happening again, including signs to indicate the placement of the stands, and the old stands have been replaced by new ones with a lower centre of gravity to reduce the likelihood of them tipping over.
“My client deeply regrets this incident,” Miller said.
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