Investigation: lack of workplace supervision significant cause of tragic accident at Lafarge quarry
An investigation into a workplace accident at the Lafarge quarry that led to the death of an employee has led to new safety measures after the report found a lack of adequate supervision to be a significant cause.
The accident occurred on April 12 at the quarry on the corner of chemin Klock and chemin Pink that is owned and operated by Lafarge Inc., a producer of sustainable construction materials, with operations across Canada. The Lafarge employee was installing a hydraulic hose on a wheel loader when the lift arm came down and crushed him against the loader’s frame. Emergency services were called to the scene but, tragically, after being transported to a nearby hospital, he was pronounced dead.
Following the incident, the provincial Occupational Health and Safety Equity Standards Commission (Commission des normes de l'équité de la santé et de la sécurité du travail – CNESST) conducted an investigation to determine the cause of the accident and to identify any remedial measures that would need to be taken. During the investigative period, use of the wheel loader was prohibited and all maintenance and repair work at the quarry was temporarily suspended.
According to the CNESST investigation report, the employee raised the machine’s arm in order to access the hose connector at the front of the machine. To make more space for a large spanner that he was using to connect the hose, he unscrewed a fitting above the connector which resulted in a hydraulic fluid leak that brought the machine’s arm down.
While incorrect tools and an absence of proper safety measures were cited in the report, it also considered a lack of proper supervision to be a significant cause of the accident. The report noted that there was no supervision while the employee was attempting to carry out the procedure. CNESST stated that employers are required by law to take necessary measures to ensure that all equipment, as well as the methods and techniques to use and maintain it, are safe. As a measure to improve safety conditions, Lafarge is required to develop new and revised company procedures for operating heavy mobile equipment and for ensuing employees are adequately supervised. According to CNESST, the company has since complied with these requirements.
Communications Manager for CNESST’s North and West Prevention and Inspection Branch Allison Ouellet said that the possibility of issuing a statement of offence is currently being considered by the organization. CNESST has one year to determine whether to issue such a statement.