Con­struc­tion ac­ci­dent on N.L. trans­mis­sion line kills two work­ers

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - FRONT PAGE - BY MARK SQUIBB / THE PACKET & JAMES MCLEOD / THE TELEGRAM mark.squibb@tc.tc jm­cleod@thetele­gram.com

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.”

MARK SQUIBB / THE PACKET

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.

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