Construction accident on N.L. transmission line kills two workers
COME BY CHANCE, NL — Two workers were killed on Monday, June 19 in an afternoon accident during construction of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro’s new transmission line from Bay d’Espoir to the Avalon Peninsula.
The accident happened west of Come By Chance, but no details about the incident are known, Nalcor Energy — NL Hydro’s parent company — stated in a news release. The two workers were not publicly identified.
“All construction on the transmission line has been suspended effective immediately,” Nalcor stated.
The incident was the second fatal accident this year on construction of transmission lines. A worker was killed in an accident near Stephenville in January.
“Hydro is working closely with the contractor with great concern and sympathy for the families and coworkers that have been affected by this tragic event,” NL Hydro said in a statement. “We will do everything necessary to support the contractor, their employees and all those working on the project. The safety of our employees, contractors and the public continues to be our number one priority.”
Forbes Bros, a company doing contract work for Hydro, employed the two non-unionized workers who were both from out of province.
Jared Moffatt, 34, was from Prince Albert, Sask., and Tim McLean, 31, was from Nipigon, Ont.
In a news release, senior vicepresident Matthew Forbes said the company is offering support to the families of the two victims.
“We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to them as they deal with this loss of their loved ones. Forbes employees are a closely knit group, and we deeply feel this loss,” Forbes said. “This is a difficult time for everyone involved. Our entire company will work together to ensure that a complete and thorough investigation determines the root cause of this incident. At this time, our main focus is on the families of the two individuals and the well-being of our coworkers.”
Work on the Bay d’Espoir line remains suspended while occupational health and safety inspectors with the provincial government try to figure out what happened.
All official parties were tightlipped about what exactly happened during the June 19 incident.
But Jabez Lane, business manager with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) 1615, said he is concerned because word is that the two workers were killed when a transmission line tower collapsed.
Lane’s union doesn’t represent the deceased workers, but once the line comes into service, it will be IBEW workers who maintain the infrastructure.
“This is in the middle of the summer,” he said. “If you get two or three inches of ice on these towers and a hundred kilometres of wind, if they’re falling down now, what are they going to do then?”
Premier Dwight Ball offered his condolences to the families of the victims.
“We were saddened yesterday when we heard the news of the accident on the transmission line,” Ball said to reporters at an event last Tuesday morning.
Ball acknowledged this isn’t exactly an isolated incident.
“When you compare to what we’ve just mentioned this morning with Hebron — some 40 million person-years of work without a loss-time incident — and then you hear the news like yesterday … I think there’s a role for all of us to play to figure out what led up to yesterday’s news,” he said.
Forbes Bros. and Nalcor Energy both issued statements offering their condolences and saying they will co-operate fully with the investigation.
Another transmission line tower collapsed near Stephenville only about a week ago, and earlier this year a worker died in an unrelated incident after being electrocuted while working on the Maritime Link portion of the Muskrat Falls project.
Forbes Bros. was also involved in a close call while working on a Manitoba transmission line, when a tower collapsed.
Service NL Minister Perry Trimper said investigators with Occupational Health and Safety would conduct a full investigation. Trimper said the final report on the incident would be made public.
Depending on the outcome of the investigation, the company could be charged with an offence.
Trimper said with a lot of hydroelectric work and transmission lines being built in the province, the government wants to figure out what’s going on.
“We’re taking this seriously. Our overall mission here is to ensure that people get back home at the end of a shift safely and without injuries, so this is a setback for us,” he said.
“We had 13 (workplace fatalities) last year, in 2016, so here’s three alone on this particular aspect of construction. So yeah, we’re concerned.”
Two ambulances, two police vehicles and a coroner’s van were at the scene of a construction accident Monday afternoon west of Come By Chance.