February 26, 2021
Convicted: R.M.Bélanger Limited, 100 Radisson Avenue, Chelmsford, Ontario, a company that provides institutional, commercial and industrial construction services.
Location of Worksite: The parking lot of a golf course near Sudbury, Ontario.
Description of Offence: A worker was killed when a wooden telephone pole rolled while it was being loaded with a forklift onto a trailer.
Date of Offence: September 17, 2018.
Date of Conviction: October 1, 2020, followed by sentencing on February 26, 2021 in Sudbury.
- Following a trial, R.M. Bélanger Limited was fined $210,000 in provincial offences court in Sudbury by Justice of the Peace Kathleen M. Bryant; Crown Counsel Wes Wilson.
- The court also imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. The surcharge is credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.
- In September of 2018 R.M. Bélanger Limited was using the parking lot of a golf course in Sudbury to store a number of wooden telephone poles. On September 17 of that year, a worker was dispatched with a truck and flatbed trailer to pick up a pole for use on a Bélanger construction site.
- At the golf course, a Bélanger worker, who was also a supervisor, was working on the site.When the Bélanger truck pulled into the parking lot, that worker offered to load the required pole for the driver.
- Using a machine equipped with a fork attachment, the worker picked up a pole and approached the flatbed trailer. The forks were not spread apart as far as possible, creating instability with the pole as the loader moved. The pole was not secured in any way to the forks.
- The truck driver was on the flatbed trailer and had placed a long piece of lumber on the trailer to act as a stopper for the pole. The driver was standing on the other side of the lumber from the side of the trailer approached by the loader.
- The operator of the loader tilted the forks forward, dropping the pole onto the flatbed. The pole rolled toward the piece of lumber. The pole had a warp in it, and rolled over the piece of lumber.
- The driver, standing on the trailer, tried to jump over the rolling pole but was hit by the pole and was knocked off the trailer. The pole rolled off the trailer, inflicting fatal injuries.
- As a consequence of the trial, R.M. Bélanger Limited was found guilty on October 1, 2020 of two offences: failing to use a safe procedure for loading a pole onto a flatbed trailer; and failing to ensure that no worker was in an endangered position during the loading of a pole onto a flatbed trailer. These were both contrary to section 25(2)(h) of the Ontario Health and Safety Act.