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Bell Canada fined record $280,000 in deaths of confined-space workers

Bell Canada has received the largest fine ever for a federally regulated company over a health and safety violation under the Canada Labour Code.

OAKVILLE, Ont.

Bell Canada has received the largest fine ever for a federally regulated company over a health and safety violation under the Canada Labour Code.

The company recently pleaded guilty in a courtroom in Oakville to three charges in the deaths of two Ontario workers in June 2007.

A fine of $280,000 was assessed against Bell and the money must be paid in three months, reports The Canadian Press.

The men, a 33-year-old from Brampton, Ont., who was never publicly identified, and 52-year-old Greg Gauthier of Binbrook, Ont., were killed in an underground vault in Oakville they had entered through a manhole. They were employed by Wesbell Communications Technologies of Mississauga, Ont., and were installing new fibre-optic cables for Bell.

The two men were working 15 feet below ground at a Third Line and North Service Road job site.

They were inside a Bell Canada manhole inspecting ducts and preparing to run communications wires for Bell when they were found unconscious, the labour ministry reported at the time of the accident. Both men were overcome by the toxic atmosphere at the bottom of the vault and collapsed.

Oakville Fire Department’s Rope Rescue Unit removed the men from the manhole but they had no vital signs. The workers were rushed to Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital where they were pronounced dead a short time later.

Investigators at first could not enter the manhole because of poor air quality levels due to an undetermined type of toxic fume, Halton Regional police reported at the time.

DCN News Services

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