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Trucking fatality results in conviction, $125,000 fine for Sudbury construction company

DCN News Services
Trucking fatality results in conviction, $125,000 fine for Sudbury construction company

TORONTO — Teranorth Construction & Engineering Ltd. of Sudbury, Ont. has been convicted and fined after a worker was killed jumping from a truck that was rolling backward and downhill.

The company, which specializes in highway construction, municipal infrastructure and site development, was working on a culvert and bridge rehabilitation project north of Elliot Lake, Ont. on Highway 639. The incident occurred Oct. 13, 2017.

Following a guilty plea, Teranorth Construction & Engineering Ltd was fined $125,000. The conviction was handed down Nov. 18, 2019. Teranorth completed work on the project on October 12, 2017, but a water truck and a fuel truck unit, both with manual transmission, needed to be taken back to Sudbury.

The driver selected for the task had a Class DZ license and at the time, was employed by Teranorth as a technician, but operating fuel or water trucks was not part of the worker’s regular duties. On Oct. 11, 2017, the worker picked up the fuel truck and drove it back to Sudbury and on October 13, 2017, the worker was asked to go back to Elliot Lake to pick up the manual transmission water truck.

A daily inspection report was conducted prior to departure from the laydown site on Highway 639 and the water truck’s lights and the lug nuts on the tires were checked, however, the back-up booster was not tested.

The worker took the truck around a corner and approached a big hill, approximately 1.5 km from the starting point, indicates a Ministry of Labour release, adding the hill stretched a long way and required downshifting through multiple gears in order to gain momentum to climb the hill.

A passerby travelling in the opposite direction on Highway 639 observed the water truck rolling backwards and weaving. As the truck cab was passing the middle of the highway, the passerby observed the driver exiting the truck and hitting the ground, rolling before coming to a rest next to the truck, which had rolled backwards into the bank, landing on the driver’s side.

The water truck’s driver was found unresponsive, transported to Elliot Lake Hospital and was pronounced dead from injuries suffered in the fall, the MOL court bulletin states.

A Ministry of Labour engineer inspected the Hydro-Max braking assist system and concluded that the electric back-up pump of the system was not working. The engineer concluded that the failed electric motor would have been detected if the operator’s manual, which explains how to test the electric back-up, had been followed. No one had instructed the driver on how to test the functionality of the back-up booster; the operator’s manual, which had test instructions, was not available to the driver; no supervisor determined whether the driver was aware of how to do the test, adds the release.

Contrary to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the employer failed to provide information and/or instruction to a worker in the operation of a manual transmission vehicle on hilly terrain or on the testing of the Hydro-Max Booster back-up braking system as part of the daily vehicle inspection.

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