May 19th, 2024

Picture Butte company fined after driver killed on worksite

By Delon Shurtz on October 22, 2021.


A Picture Butte industrial and agricultural fabrication company as been fined nearly $200,000 after a delivery driver was killed at the worksite nearly three years ago.
Hank’s Feedmill Service pleaded guilty last month in Lethbridge provincial court to a charge under the Occupational Health and Safety Act of failing to ensure the health and safety of a worker. The company was fined $175,000 and placed under a two-year regulatory supervision order to ensure it follows OHS regulations and other safety procedures.
On March 15, 2019 a delivery driver with Transport Madric, an inter-provincial trucking company, was dropping off 40-foot steel pipes at Hank’s Feedmill Services. A forklift operator was unloading the pipes when a pipe rolled off the trailer, and struck and killed the delivery driver, Martin Boileau.
Crown Prosecutor Kendrik Kruger told court that as the forklift operator removed two pallets of equipment from the trailer, he noticed a pipe not secured with other bundles of pipes and he warned the driver to stay away from the area.
“Whether this warning was heard or understood…is not known,” Kruger said.
The worker, who was operating a telescopic handler with a fork attachment, lifted the first bundle of pipes only a few inches to determine whether the loose pipe would move with the bundle, however the loose pipe immediately began to roll toward the driver’s side of the vehicle. After shouting a warning to the driver, the worker ran around the truck and found the driver underneath the pipe.
Kruger pointed out that Hank’s Feedmill had a comprehensive safety program at the time of the incident, but the safety manual did not include any specific safe job procedures (SJPs) for loading or unloading of material that pertain to the safety of delivery drivers. The SJP for the general operation of a telehandler requires a spotter to assist the operator, and a load must also be secured before moving it.
“The SJP was not implemented in respect of (the worker) in that he was not trained to comply with it, at least insofar as ensuring Boileau was clear of all danger of being hit by falling materials being unloaded before the unloading process commenced,” Kruger said.
He added Hank’s Feedmill introductory training policy included specific job training which was to be recorded in a software database and tracked by management, but was not.
“However, (the worker’s) training records show no eCompliance training or tracking as a form of monitoring compliance with the specific training requirements for unloading materials while operating a telehandler.”
The company’s visitor policy at the time required all visitors to comply with company rules and to conduct themselves in a manner so as not to put themselves or others at risk. But the company did not consider delivery drivers to be visitors within the meaning of the policy, and the forklift operator had not been trained to inform them of the policy.
Kruger pointed out that following the incident, Hank’s Feedmill developed specific rules and policies relating to delivery drivers and the operation of a telehandler or forklift.
Calgary lawyer Allison Sears told court the company chose to forgo a trial, and accepted responsibility for the incident. She stressed the company is remorseful and saddened by the driver’s death.
“The remorse is genuine and heartfelt, and more important they are dedicated and committed to taking the steps necessary to prevent an accident like this from ever happening again,” Sears said.
Sears said the company had a comprehensive safety program at the time, and a hazard assessment was conducted on the morning of the incident, “but Hanks fell short of what was required.”
Sears said certain hazards had not been identified and there were gaps in the safety program and shortfalls in enforcement and compliance of the program. However, the company has taken meaningful steps to comply with the legislation.
“It certainly can’t be said that Hanks was recklessly indifferent or that they had knowledge of the risk and they ignored it.”
As part of a creative sentencing option, the $175,000 fine, which was jointly recommended by the Crown and defence, will be divided among several organizations, including the Alberta Workforce Essential Skills Society, which will receive nearly $100,000, and Picture Butte Emergency Services, which will receive $50,000.

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