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August 24, 2018

Aecon fined $50K for 2013 workplace accident in Halifax


A large national construction company has been ordered to pay $50,000 for its role in a September 2013 workplace accident that left a worker disabled.

Judge Gregory Lenehan on Wednesday sentenced Aecon Group Inc. to pay a fine of $50,000, $15,000 of which is to go to Construction Safety Nova Scotia to provide safety presentations, particularly regarding the disassembly and storage of suspended scaffolding.

Chris Conrod, an employee of Economy Glass, was working at a Lemarchant Street construction site in Halifax on the morning of Sept. 9, 2013, when a steel beam that was being used as an outrigger for a swing stage on the penthouse roof fell more than four storeys. The beam struck Conrod on the back, causing a serious spinal-cord injury. Conrod, who had been a glazier for 27 years, now uses a wheelchair.

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According to trial evidence, an employee of McCarthy’s Roofing Ltd. had taken apart and moved the outrigger on Sept. 7 to facilitate roofing work.

McCarthy’s had made two requests through Aecon to have the company responsible for the swing stage, Flynn Canada Ltd., move the outrigger, but the equipment was still in place on the morning of Sept. 7. A McCarthy’s foreman without training in the proper disassembly of swing stages — and without permission from Flynn — unplugged the power supply, disconnected tie-back cables, removed counterbalancing weights, dismantled the outrigger and moved it out of the way.

At the end of the day, the foreman returned the outrigger to its original position on the roof but did not reassemble the cradle, weights or tie-back cables.

Before leaving the construction site on Sept. 7, the foreman submitted a job assessment risk review card on which he indicated there were no potential hazards remaining at the location of the work McCarthy’s had performed that day.

Evidence showed an Aecon supervisor did not check the roof at the end of the day as part of any routine site safety inspection.

On June 25, Lenehan found Aecon guilty of not taking every reasonable precaution to ensure the health and safety of a person at a workplace, in violation of Nova Scotia’s Occupational Health and Safety Act. Lenehan said in his verdict that he was satisfied that as construction manager for the Dalhousie University project, Aecon failed to ensure a swing stage or its components were properly disassembled, secured or stored.

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