De­ci­sion made in Con­cord Paving case

Com­pany has one year to pay $55,250


St. John’s — In May of 2009, flag­man Tom Con­nors was killed on the job af­ter be­ing crushed by heavy ma­chin­ery.

His em­ployer, Con­cord Paving of Car­bon­ear, has been fined $35,000 for fail­ing to pro­vide traf­fic con­trol pro­ce­dures and equip­ment, and fail­ing to pro­vide proper train­ing and su­per­vi­sion to en­sure the safety of its work­ers.

The com­pany was found guilty of both charges un­der the Oc­cu­pa­tional Health and Safety Act in June of this year. The only ques­tion had been how much Con­cord would be or­dered to pay.

Judge Lois Skanes an­nounced her de­ci­sion on Tues­day, Aug. 28.

In ad­di­tion to the fine, the com­pany was also or­dered to pay $15,000 to­ward a pub­lic work­place safety pro­gram and a $5,250 vic­tim sur­charge. It has one year to pay the $55,250.

Skanes did not waste words in her writ­ten de­ci­sion. The con­clu­sion was brief and to the point. It sim­ply out­lined this case, re­lated cases and listed the pre­scribed mone­tary penal­ties.

The de­ci­sion brings to a close a case that’s dragged on for three years.

The day Con­nors died, he was part of a four-per­son crew that was dig­ging ditches and clear­ing land on the side of the Holy­rood Ac­cess Road. He died af­ter be­ing run over by an ex­ca­va­tor.

Af­ter sev­eral weeks of tes­ti­mony dur­ing the trial from those at the site, the judge con­cluded that Con­cord did not pro­vide the tools needed for safe com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween flag­per­sons and the com­pany’s su­per­vi­sor failed to watch his em­ploy­ees closely to en­sure their safety.

Skanes wrote in her de­ci­sion on the charges that due to the cur­va­ture of Route 62, a third flag­per­son would have been re­quired.

Skanes also said that be­cause the ac­ci­dent hap­pened at the work­site while Con­nors was do­ing his job, it was up to the de­fence to prove the com­pany did all it could to pre­vent it, but said the com­pany didn’t con­vince the court it did.

She also said there was no ev­i­dence that in-house train­ing was car­ried out and pointed out that coowner and job su­per­vi­sor Scott Mullins did not keep close enough eye on his em­ploy­ees to make sure they were work­ing in a safe man­ner.

“Al­though Scott Mullins ap­pears to have been gen­er­ally avail­able and within a short dis­tance, there is no ev­i­dence that he or any­one else on be­half of Con­cord, su­per­vised the em­ploy­ees by pe­ri­od­i­cally watch­ing how the ex­ca­va­tor driv­ers, heavy equip­ment op­er­a­tors and flag­per­sons were do­ing their job,” said Skanes at the time.

She also pointed out that other em­ploy­ees also no­ticed that Con­nors was too close to the heavy ma­chin­ery, but that none of them pointed it out to the su­per­vi­sor.

Con­sid­er­ing ap­peal

The lawyer for Con­cord, John Babb, later told CBC News he was sat­is­fied with the penalty, not­ing it was “cer­tainly within range.”

But Babb also sug­gested the com­pany was con­sid­er­ing an ap­peal, point­ing out that two civil­ian wit­nesses ob­served the vic­tim “stum­ble or for some rea­son had fallen un­der the track.

“Why he was so close, no­body re­ally knows,” said Babb.

Ac­cord­ing to reg­u­la­tions, Con­nors should have been at least 50 me­tres from the ex­ca­va­tor.

Babb said the com­pany has a good safety record, and pointed out that four of the six charges were dis­missed.

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