Two Ottawa construction firms, site supervisors fined for death of worker on condo project site
May 31, 2019 by David Kennedy
OTTAWA—Two construction companies as well as a site supervisor with each firm have been fined a combined $677,500 for the death of a worker on an Ottawa condo project site just over three years ago.
The victim was struck by a large piece of ice that from the wall of an excavation pit while working on the 46-storey Claridge Icon project, the city’s tallest residential tower, in March 2016.
Claridge Homes, the builder, and Bellai Brothers Construction Ltd., firm responsible for the project’s structural concrete work, pleaded guilty to violating Ontario’s construction regulations in an Ottawa courtroom May 30. The builders failed to ensure the walls of the excavated area were stripped of loose ice that could fall and hit a worker.
It wasn’t the first time a worker had been hit by falling ice on the job site, which included one of the deepest excavations in the country at the time.
About six weeks before the fatal incident, another Bellai Brothers worker was hit by ice but not seriously injured, according to the Ministry of Labour. The incident was reported, but an inspector deemed that sufficient ice removal precautions were being taken. To counter the ice build up on the walls of the 30-metre excavation, a company was hired to power wash the walls of the pit with hot water from pump trucks. The site’s crane, as well as excavators were used for other portions. Metal netting and tarps had been hung about four metres below the top of the pit and a snow fence had been put in place along the south wall. Workers were also warned to watch for ice, as well as to stay clear of the south wall.
On March 21 and 22, however, the fence was removed along with a rock pile that had sat in front of the south wall of the pit.
Tasked with preparing for a new footing at the bottom of the excavation the following day, a worker was hit by a falling piece of ice weighing an estimated 56 kilograms and stretching four metres long. It fell from near the top of the pit below the netting.
Paramedics responded, but the worker died from his injuries.
After the job site had been cleared, the ministry noted, another large piece of ice fell from the same location on the south wall.
Along with fines of $325,000 for each company, supervisors with Claridge and Bellai Brothers were fined $12,000 and $15,000, respectively.