The workers who were injured and died in the trench collapse on an Ajax, Ont. construction site Aug. 8, were members of LIUNA.
In an emailed statement to the Daily Commercial News, Joseph Mancinelli, LIUNA international vice-president and regional manager for central and eastern Canada, said LIUNA was heartbroken to learn of the workplace incident involving its members.
“We stand in solidarity with the friends, family and LIUNA membership to honour the lives of our fallen LIUNA Brothers in Ajax, Ont.,” Mancinelli said in the statement. “We grieve as one union family and in difficult times we must stand united and continue to ensure the highest level of health and safety.
One life taken is one too many. As an organization and as an industry we can and we must continue to ensure that all workplaces are safe and that all workers who build and better our communities are protected. We must ensure that each and every worker returns home safe and healthy at the end of the work day. Rest easy, our Brothers.”
The incident took place Aug. 8 at a site near Rossland and Westney roads around noon.
Four workers were involved in the incident: two were injured and two died.
One worker was airlifted to a Toronto hospital and another was taken to a local hospital with a broken ankle.
Durham Regional Police confirmed the bodies of two missing workers were recovered Aug. 9 at 2:30 a.m.
The workers were employed by Direct Underground Inc. based in Vaughan, Ont. One requirement was issued to the constructor, Grascan Construction Ltd.
The Daily Commercial News reached out to Direct Underground and Grascan Construction for comment but did not receive a response. Crews used heavy excavating equipment and worked through the night to recover the bodies.
Condolences are pouring in online for the victims, although their ages identities have not yet been released.
Peel Injured workers tweeted: “Heartbreaking and so preventable. How many more workers have to die this way?”
Town of Ajax Regional Ward 2 Councillor Sterling Lee tweeted his condolences on the day the bodies were recovered.
“My deepest condolences go out to the family and loved ones of the two construction workers that passed away in Ajax early this morning due to a trench collapse. While we wait for more details, I ask that you keep those affected in your thoughts.”
On Aug. 9, the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association tweeted: “Trenching and excavation work can be dangerous if proper procedures are not followed. Hazards include cave-ins, struck-by injuries, electrical contact, and slips, trips and falls. Trenching & Excavation (ihsa.ca).”
The Ontario Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development (MLITSD) was called in to investigate the cause of the collapse. Two inspectors and one engineering consultant attended the scene.
The Christian Labour Association of Canada, HHCA and other local politicians also shared their condolences and reiterated the importance of safe worksites.
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