July 23rd, 2024

March 8 date for judge’s decision in accidental death case

By Delon Shurtz on January 30, 2021.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A judge is expected to announce in a matter of weeks whether a Cardston company is guilty of failing to ensure the safety of one of its employees, who died in a work-related accident three years ago.
During a brief hearing Friday in Lethbridge provincial court, the date of March 18 was set to receive Judge John Maher’s decision in the case against Taurus Natural Inc., which faces 14 charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, regulation and code.
The charges allege the Cardston livestock feed company failed to protect 41-year-old Scott Forsyth by failing to ensure he and other workers were properly trained to operate some of the equipment. Forsyth died on the job Jan. 30, 2018.
The worker climbed into a dry mineral mixing hopper, even though the mixer control had not been isolated and locked out, which would have prevented the machine from operating. The mixer was activated while the worker was inside the hopper, and the steel rotating agitator pinned him to the inside wall.
Calgary lawyer Michael Smith said the company did not fail in its responsibility to keep its employee safe, and doesn’t know why Forsyth entered the mixing hopper or why another employee, who was not supposed to operate the mixer, turned it on.
Company owner Bart Leavitt testified Forsyth was fully trained to operate the mixer, and knew it needed to be locked out to prevent it from operating while anyone is inside cleaning or maintaining it. Under cross examination by the Crown, Leavitt conceded there was no operating manual for the equipment, but pointed out there was a set procedure and Forsyth had been fully trained.
During his closing arguments at the conclusion of the trial, Smith said the company did all it could to protect its employees, and can’t be blamed for Forsyth’s actions on the day he died.
“The actions of Scott Forsyth are not the actions of Taurus Natural Inc., and the failings of Scott Forsyth are not the failings of Taurus Natural Inc.,” Smith said.
The Crown maintains Forsyth, who had only been responsible for running the mixer for a short time before he died, was not properly trained to operate the equipment.
Co-Crown Prosecutor Jasmine Grewal said during her closing arguments, Forsyth entered the mixer while it was still energized because he hadn’t been adequately trained, and the company failed to take specific steps to ensure his safety.
“If there was a safety system in place, none of his would have happened,” Grewal said.

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