Chilliwack RCMP officers at the scene of what turned out to be a workplace incident at the corner of Corbould and Kipp in November. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Top Stories 2017: Tragic workplace incidents in the news

One death, two serious injuries of individuals on the job

No one expects to go to work and get injured or die, but tragically it happens all too often in B.C.

Last year WorkSafeBC were called to come to Chilliwack to investigate a number of tragic incidents that impacted workers and their families.

The first incident of the year was the most tragic when a 21-year-old fell from a 40-foot tilt-up building under construction at the Bailey Landfill on Feb. 21.

An unnamed co-worker at the scene said the man fell the considerable distance and when he and others got to him, the young man had no pulse.

“He didn’t make it,” he said in a Facebook post. “I have never in my life felt so helpless and scared. It’s going to be a rough night for me. Please help and say a prayer for his wife and family.”

Two months later The Progress reported on a WorkSafeBC report on the cause of a concrete pumper truck collapse that killed one man and seriously injured another at a construction site in Garrison Crossing in 2016.

A manufacturer’s defect was to blame for the accident, according to the report obtained through a freedom of information request.

It was March 11, 2016 when the KC’s Pumping Services truck was in position at the 53-unit townhouse project in Garrison Crossing with the concrete placing boom fully extended. At approximately 7:40 a.m., the front right outrigger of the truck failed, and the boom came down, striking two workers – a concrete placer and a crew foreman.

The concrete placer, 24-year-old Sebastian Gomez Obando, was killed. The foreman, 26-year-old Gerson Alvarado, suffered a broken torso, spinal cord damage, lung trauma and broken leg and ankle.

The next incident happened in September when a worker was seriously injured after a crane at a construction site reportedly came into close proximity with overhead hydro wires.

• READ MORE: Worker seriously injured in Chilliwack workplace accident

Witnesses said the crane was lifting a large metal bar at the tilt-up building site on Luckakuck Way when the boom began to swing wildly.

The bar hit the wire, sending out a huge shower of sparks. They heard what sounded like a large explosion, then a man yelling. The injured worker was on a scissor lift.

The latest incident happened Nov. 29 when Daniel Winston, working on his sixth shift as a swamper on an Emterra recycling truck, fell or was thrown off the back striking his head on the road.

He was brought to Chilliwack General Hospital then quickly transferred to Royal Columbian Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery due to a brain bleed.

Having previously felt confident that between support from the company, friends and family she would be OK financially, Daniel’s wife Catherine let a friend set up a GoFundMe.

• READ MORE: GoFundMe started for Chilliwack man seriously injured in recycling truck incident

By Christmas, Daniel was back at Chilliwack General Hospital and Catherine posted that he was progressing well with his treatment. While still suffering cognitive issues after two brain surgeries following the serious accident, he is in recovery.

As to what happened to cause the accident, WorkSafeBC is investigating. Guidelines say that swampers must have a footboard to stand on or a platform to sit on, and hand-holds. They are also required to have safety belts, harness or other restraint “except where the worker is a swamper riding on the back of a garbage truck during short pickup runs at speeds of less than 20 km/h.”

WorkSafeBC time-loss claims for injuries in the category that includes garbage collectors has been on the decline over the last five years, according to a spokesperson.

In 2012, WorkSafeBC accepted 225 claims, a number that was down to 180 for 2016. So far in 2017, there have been 129 claims.


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

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