Blue-col­lar’s death probed

BASIN AC­CI­DENT ‘ His col­leagues are in shock – he was very well known,’ wa­ter di­rec­tor says

Montreal Gazette - - Montreal -

The pro­vin­cial worker’s health and safety board is in­ves­ti­gat­ing af­ter a Montreal blue-col­lar worker fell more than 13 me­tres to his death into an un­cov­ered basin at a mu­nic­i­pal wa­ter treat­ment plant in Pier­re­fonds yes­ter­day.

Work in the vicin­ity of the basin has been halted while in­spec­tors check the safety of the site and the work meth­ods, Com­mis­sion de la santé et de la sécu­rité du tra­vail du Québec spokesper­son Pa­tri- cia Dar­ilus said.

The vic­tim, a fore­man in his 50s, had worked for the city of Montreal for about 30 years, said Ré­jean Lévesque, di­rec­tor of mu­nic­i­pal wa­ter ser­vices.

“His col­leagues are in shock – he was very well known,” Lévesque said.

He de­clined to iden­tify the man, at the re­quest of the vic­tim’s fam­ily.

The vic­tim was on foot out­side the plant on Gouin Blvd. W. when the ac­ci­dent occurred around 9 a.m.

The fore­man was back­ing up as he un­rolled a hose be­tween two un­cov­ered basins when he ac­ci­den­tally tripped on the metal­lic lip of one basin and fell to his death, Dar­ilus said.

The lip of the basin, a newly built wa­ter reser­voir that was wait­ing to be filled with wa­ter, was about seven cen­time­tres above the ground, she said.

The four-storey-deep basins have cov­ers, but the cov­ers were not in place at the time of the ac­ci­dent, Dar­ilus added.

Fire­fight­ers were called to re­trieve the man’s body.

The vic­tim’s col­leagues did not wit­ness the in­ci­dent, Dar­ilus said.

The CSST is con­cerned about the num­ber of work­place ac­ci­dents in­volv­ing falls from heights of three me­tres or more, she noted.

In 2009, there were 744 such falls re­ported in Que­bec; four peo­ple died as a re­sult.

“This is a pri­or­ity for the CSST,” Dar­ilus said. “It’s im­por­tant to en­sure safe work­ing meth­ods.”

Psy­chol­o­gists and em­ployee coun­sel­lors have been called in to help the man’s co­work­ers deal with the fa­tal ac­ci­dent, Lévesque said.

PETER McCABE THE GAZETTE

Montreal fire­fight­ers pre­pare to re­move the body of a blue-col­lar worker who fell 13 me­tres down an un­cov­ered basin while work­ing yes­ter­day at the Pier­re­fonds wa­ter treat­ment plant on Gouin Blvd.

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