Court cases

WorkSafeNB's health and safety officers and occupational hygienists are given legislative authority to write orders under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, to improve safety and prevent accidents in New Brunswick workplaces.

In the event that these orders are not complied with, or in the event that an accident has taken place as a result of a violation of the Act and/or its regulations, charges will be laid against the employer.

WorkSafeNB's General Counsel's Office supervises these legal actions. A listing of recent court cases is included below, and is published in each edition of E-News, WorkSafeNB's electronic newsletter.
 
Court cases

Top Tradesmen Building Ltd., of Saint-Joseph-de-Kent, was fined $6,600 on January 20, 2017 for two offences under New Brunswick's Occupational Health and Safety Act. On October 16, 2015, a worker fell from a roof, more than six metres above the ground, in downtown Moncton. The worker was wearing a body harness, but it was not secured to an anchor point. Top Tradesmen Building Ltd. previously pleaded guilty for failing to immediately notify WorkSafeNB that an employee experienced an injury resulting in a serious fracture. It also failed to ensure no person disturbed the scene of the accident that resulted in serious injury, except as necessary.

On September 6, 2016, Les Cèdres Balmoral Ltée, pleaded guilty to a charge under subsection 43(1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act for failing to immediately report to WorkSafeNB an injury that requires or may require hospitalization. The charge resulted from an incident on May 28, 2014 when an employee working on a log saw machine had his hand crushed between the log and the stopper arm. Les Cèdres Balmoral Ltée was fined $3,000, plus a $600 victim surcharge.

On August 22, Daniel Christie, president of C&D Construction, pleaded guilty to a charge under subsection 9(2)(c.3) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act for failing to provide the supervision necessary to ensure an employee’s health and safety. The charge resulted from an accident on September 24, when an employee fell off scaffolding and fractured his wrist, hip, and ankle. The employee was one of only two C&D Construction employees working at the site of an expansion project. Both employees were only in their second week of work with the company. An investigation found that the rolling scaffold being used had not been fitted with guardrails and the wheels were not locked. C&D Construction was fined $2,000, plus a $400 victim surcharge.

Midas Muffler, owned by Brian Assels, pleaded guilty July 21 to a charge under the OHS Act for failing to take every reasonable precaution to ensure the health and safety of his employees. The charge stemmed from an incident on May 4, 2015 at Midas Muffler in Moncton when a licensed automotive technician used a metal cutting saw mounted on the top of a waste oil tank. The tank exploded when sparks ignited the explosive mixture in the tank, and the worker received burns and lacerations. Assels was fined $2,500, plus a $500 victim surcharge.

MRDC Operations Corporation (MRDC), pleaded guilty July 21 to a charge under General Regulation 91-191, of the OHS Act for failing to ensure the competency of an employee with respect to the tools, equipment and machinery that employee is required to use. The charge stemmed from an incident on June 17, 2015 when the thinning saw being used by an employee clearing brush from a deer fence kicked back and struck a second employee on the leg. MRDC was fined $ 7,000, plus a victim surcharge of $1,400.

Christian Larocque, owner of Christian Larocque Services Ltée, pleaded guilty on June 15, 2016 to a charge under the OHS Act for failing to ensure that workers and objects remained at a specified distance from electrical utility lines. On May 29, 2014, the company was removing wooden debris from a clear-cut forest area. A truck driver made contact with an NB Power line while dumping a load of debris. The driver heard a loud bang and saw a fireball in his rearview mirror. No one was injured in the incident. Larocque was fined $3,333.34, plus a victim surcharge of $666.66.

Les Pêcherie LeBreton & Fils Ltd. pleaded guilty on May 17, 2016 to a charge under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The company failed to ensure their employees continually use fall protection when working from an unguarded area more than three metres above the nearest permanent safe level. The charge stems from an incident on September 8, 2014 when a worker fell about three metres from a roof at a renovation project at 690 rue Acadie in Grande-Anse. The worker broke his left heel and bones in his right foot, and felt pain in his knees, hips back and neck. The court fined the company $12,000, including a victim surcharge, and issued a requirement that its supervisor and managers attend training on health and safety responsibilities.

Coastal Metals Ltd. pleaded guilty on May 17, 2016 to a charge under the Occupational Health and Safety Act for failing to ensure an employee used fall protection equipment in the course of his work. The company was fined $28,000, including a victim surcharge. The charge was laid following an incident on November 13, 2014 when a worker fell about 3.6 metres (12 feet) from steel housing supported by two overhead cranes. A failure in the rigging chain sling caused the steel housing to fall, toppling the worker onto a concrete floor. The worker became comatose after sustaining fractures to his skull, nose, cheek bones, arm, foot, hip and pelvis, and continues to experience difficulties due to a brain injury. As part of the sentencing, the supervisor and managers are required to attend training on health and safety responsibilities.

Sussex Tire Ltd. pleaded guilty on January 21, 2016 to a charge under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The company was fined $8,400 for failing to ensure a safety cage or other restraining device was used and other precautionary measures taken to protect employees from an exploding tire. The charge was laid following an accident on December 8, 2014 when a worker was repairing a multi-piece rim and tire from an industrial rock bolting machine. After making the repairs, the worker reassembled and began inflating the tire with a compressor. During inflation, he tapped the rim's locking ring with a hammer to move it into the right position. It caused the tire's tube to rupture and the wheel assembly to explode, injuring the worker's hand and face.

Signature Landscaping pleaded guilty on December 22, 2015 to a charge under the Occupational Health and Safety Act for failing to provide necessary instruction to ensure employees' health and safety. The company was fined a total of $6,000. The charge was laid following an accident on May 30, 2014 while its employees were displacing large retaining wall concrete blocks at Mount Allison University's Purdy Crawford Centre for the Arts. One employee was rigging hoisting chains from an excavator's bucket to an unloaded block when the boom of the excavator accidently lowered, crushing his arm. WorkSafeNB's investigation determined the employer failed to ensure employees were provided with instructions of safe rigging and displacement of the material.

Terry McPhee, owner/operator of McPhee & Company Ltd., pleaded guilty on December 1, 2015 to a charge under the Occupational Health and Safety Act for failing to ensure electrical equipment had been de-energized and locked out before carrying out work. He was fined $2,500. The charge was laid following an accident on December 17, 2014 in the electrical room of Kings Place Shopping Centre in Fredericton. McPhee was demonstrating to two employees how to install a duplex fusible disconnect on an electrical panel when it came into contact with a 600-volt buss bar mounting hardware, causing an electrical fault and a subsequent arc flash. WorkSafeNB's investigation determined the employer failed to have the electrical equipment in a zero energy state or to wear personal protective equipment to prevent arc flash injuries.

Twello Property Management pleaded guilty on November 27, 2015 to a charge under the Occupational Health and Safety Act for failing to provide the necessary information to ensure the safety of a subcontractor. The company was fined $5,000. The charge was laid following an accident on September 2, 2014. The worker broke his foot when the fire escape platform he was standing on detached from the house, causing him to fall to the ground.

Jamer Materials Ltd. pleaded guilty October 13, 2015 to a charge under the OHS Act for failing to provide the necessary training to ensure an employee’s health and safety and was fined $12,000. The charge was laid following an accident on July 1, 2014 at the Bayside Wharf in Bayside, N.B. An employee was operating the hydraulics control unit of a ship loading conveyor when it flipped, crushing him underneath and causing serious injuries. WorkSafeNB’s investigation determined the employer failed to train and instruct the employee in the safe procedure for a conveyor changeover.

Butler’s Roofing Ltd. of Fredericton pleaded guilty on October 9, 2015 to a charge under New Brunswick’s Occupational Health and Safety Act for failing to immediately report a workplace injury. An employee broke his foot when he slipped on a loose shingle on the roof and fell almost four metres to the ground.

Three employees of H&L Framing (2006) Contractors Ltd. pleaded guilty on September 3, 2015 to charges of violating the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Supervisor Marcel Richard was fined $750 plus a $150 surcharge for failing to ensure his employees were using fall-arrest equipment. Employees Gilles Bastarache and Remi Thibodeau also pleaded guilty to failing to use fall-arrest equipment. They were released without penalty.

Vitalité Health Network pleaded guilty on August 28, 2015 to violating New Brunswick’s Occupational Health and Safety Act. Vitalité failed to establish a code of practice for the cleaning, maintenance, adjustments or repairs of the low-pressure condensate tank in a heating-cooling system. The charge stemmed from an incident, in which a worker experienced second-degree burns, at the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre on July 16, 2014. The organization was fined $5,000, plus a victim surcharge of $1,500.

Newmans Roofing and Siding Inc. pleaded guilty on July 16, 2015 to a charge of violating the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Responding to a complaint of workers on a second-storey roof without fall-arrest equipment, WorkSafeNB issued a stop-work order on September 11, 2014. The company was fined $3,000 plus a $300 victim surcharge.

Chaleur Sawmill (Scieries Chaleur Associés) pleaded guilty on June 15, 2015 to charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act for failure to ensure that no employee works on a machine, including cleaning, repair and maintenance, until it is in a zero-energy state and locked out by a competent person. The company was fined $5,000.

Guy Boudreau, an employee of G.B. Roofing Ltd., pleaded guilty on May 26, 2015 to a charge under the Occupational Health and Safety Act for failure to ensure that employees use a fall-protection system when employees work from an unguarded work area that is more than three metres above the nearest safety level. He was fined $500.

G.B. Roofing Ltd. also pleaded guilty on May 26, 2015 to a charge under the Occupational Health and Safety Act for failure to ensure that employees use a fall-protection system when employees work from an unguarded work area that is more than three metres above the nearest safety level. The company was fined $3,000.

D.M. Roofing Ltd. pleaded guilty on February 19, 2015 and was charged with several counts under the OHS Act after several of its employees were found to be working on a roof without the required fall-protection. The company entered a guilty plea to charges that it failed to ensure that employees use fall protection and failing to use guardrails where required. The company was fined a total of $1,600.

David Young, of Nackawic Mechanical Ltd., pleaded guilty on February 11, 2015 to a charge under the OHS Act for failure to operate a hoisting apparatus, industrial lift truck, powered mobile equipment or aerial device under proper safety provisions. The charge stemmed from an incident in which a boom came into contact with a high-voltage line. Young was fined $4,000.

I & B Construction Ltd. pleaded guilty on January 19, 2015 to charges under the OHS Act for failure to comply with first aid regulations and failure to take all reasonable precautions. An employee fell from staging into window and then to basement floor, resulting in two broken legs. The company was fined $5,000, which included victim surcharge.

Raymond Nadeau, supervisor for Dunbar Construction, pleaded guilty on December 1, 2014 to charges under the OHS Act for failure to designate a competent person as a signaller. The charges stemmed from an incident in which a steel plate dropped on a worker, causing arm crushing injuries. Nadeau fined $1,500.

Robert Roy Carpentry Ltd. pleaded guilty on September 17, 2014 to a charge under the OHS Act for failing to ensure a wood plank could not move in any direction that could injure an employee. The charge was laid following an incident in which a worker lost consciousness after falling three metres (10 feet) from scaffolding while working at a private residence. The firm was fined $7,000 plus a $1,400 victim surcharge.

Jacques Melanson Framing Inc. pleaded guilty on August 21, 2014 to charges under the OHS Act for: failure to ensure ends of a wall bracket platform have guardrails as required; failure to provide, where construction is being carried out in an area where an employee’s safety may be endangered by vehicular traffic, competent signallers to control the flow of traffic; and failure to provide a guardrail shall be made of materials with sufficient strength and rigidity. The firm was fined $5,000.

Martell Home Builders pleaded guilty on August 21, 2014 to charges under the OHS Act for failure to take reasonable precaution to ensure the health and safety of persons having access to a worksite and failure to ensure that a scaffold if above three metres has a guardrail that meets requirements. The firm was fined $7,500.

The Pepsi Bottling Group pleaded guilty on July 3, 2014 to a charge under the OHS Act for failing to ensure an industrial lift truck was inspected daily and maintained in good operating condition. The charge was laid following an incident on Dec. 17, 2012, which claimed the life of Thomas Snitch. The Pepsi Bottling Group was fined $45,000 plus a $9,000 victim surcharge.

In connection with the same incident, on March 20, 2014, Leon Marcel LeBlanc was fined $3,000, after earlier pleading guilty to failing to ensure an industrial lift truck was used only for the purposes for which it was designed. LeBlanc’s company was contracted by Pepsi to perform general maintenance at the bottling plant. Snitch was LeBlanc’s part-time employee.

LeBlanc was asked to remove a large piece of steel that was bolted to the floor because it needed to be replaced. Many of the bolts were loose and LeBlanc removed them, but one was stuck so he used a forklift to pry the steel from the floor. The large piece of steel went flying and struck Snitch in the head, killing him.

Norman Nixon, a supervisor with Hannah Construction Inc., pleaded guilty on June 10, 2014 to a charge under the OHS Act  for allowing a crew to work on the roof of a building untethered. On July 12, 2013, a WorkSafeNB health and safety officer saw the crew working untethered on the roof of a building under construction in St. Andrews. The officer ordered the crew onto the ground, told them how they should be tied in, then said they could climb back onto the roof once they complied. When the officer returned approximately three hours later, the crew was back on the roof, still untethered. Nixon was fined $600.

R.L. Goguen Home Builders Inc. pleaded guilty on April 14, 2014 to a charge under the OHS Act  for failure to ensure that an opening was guarded by a protective covering that was securely fastened. The charge stemmed from an incident in which a worker fell through an opening in the floor of a residential construction site. The company was fined $2,000.

Romeo Rossignol, supervisor for Maximum Roofing and Flooring Ltd., pleaded guilty on September 30, 2014 to a charge under the OHS Act for failure to ensure that an employee who is engaged in the weatherproofing of a roof is three metres or more above the ground or other safe working level, uses a fall-arrest system. Rossignol was fined $250.

Black Eagle Construction (1999) Ltd. pleaded guilty on March 25, 2014 to a charge under the OHS Act for moving scaffolding while workers were standing on it.  On Nov. 8, 2012, Stewart and another worker were standing on the top platform of scaffolding, working on roof trusses at the Miramichi Riverside Entertainment Centre. The worker was wearing a fall-arrest harness but it was not tied off, having just unhooked it to move to the next truss and Stewart was wearing no restraint. Stewart instructed workers to roll the scaffolding over to the next truss while Stewart and the worker remained on the platform. The scaffolding hit an extension cord as it was being moved, and tipped over, causing Stewart and the worker to fall to the floor. Stewart injured his shoulder, had face contusions and was rendered unconscious. The worker suffered a crushed ankle and a shoulder injury. Black Eagle Construction (1999) Ltd. was fined $7,000, plus a $1,400 victim surcharge.

Chaleur Sawmill (Scieries Chaleur Associés) pleaded guilty on March 20, 2014 to a charge under subsection 43(1) of the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act for failing to report to WorkSafeNB an injury that required hospitalization. The charge is a result of an incident in February 2013 in which a worker cut a finger and broke an arm when his hand was pulled into a pulley. Chaleur Sawmill was fined $4,000, plus a $900 surcharge.

TerraEX Inc. pleaded guilty on March 11, 2014 to a charge under the OHS Act for failure to ensure excavation is shored, braced or caged. The company was fined $3,000.

Prospect Building Contractors (2004) Ltd. pleaded guilty on January 10, 2014 to charges stemming from an incident in Fredericton in which an employee, who was also a supervisor, fell from a roof being installed on a commercial project. The company was fined $4,000 and also made a $1,000 donation to the Stan Cassidy Centre.

Lloyd Dutcher Developments Ltd. pleaded guilty on December 3, 2013 to a charge under the OHS Act for failing to provide such supervision, training and instruction necessary to ensure an employee’s health and safety. On June 21, 2012 an employee working for the company on a residential construction project fell through a stairwell opening on the second floor of the home to the basement floor. The worker was killed instantly. The charge stemmed from the fact that the company owner had been on site before the accident and observed the employees working at heights without fall protection and did not require them to wear it even though the equipment was available. Lloyd Dutcher Developments Ltd. was fined $15,000, plus a $3,000 victim surcharge.

David Chiasson, supervisor of Expert Roofing, pleaded guilty on October 23, 2013 to a charge under the OHS Act for failure to ensure that employees receive fall protection training and that to ensure that an employee who is engaged in the weatherproofing of a roof is three metres or more above the ground or other safe working level, has a slope exceeding 4 in 12 and has an unguarded edge, uses an individual fall-arresting system. Chiasson was fined $1,000.

AV Cell Inc. and Val Landry & Son (Roofing and Sheet Metal Working) Ltd. were fined in October, 2013, in relation to a workplace incident that claimed the life of a New Brunswick worker.

On September 29, 2011, Maurice Roussel, 60, a co-owner of Val Landry & Son Ltd. and the on-site supervisor, was one of three workers hired to do repair work at the AV Cell mill in Atholville. The workers fell about 10.6 metres (35 feet) to a concrete floor when a wooden catwalk they were using to reach part of a ceiling gave way. Roussel died and two other workers were badly injured.

AV Cell Inc., pleaded guilty October 9, 2013 under paragraph 11(b) of the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act for failing to take every reasonable precaution to ensure the health and safety of workers in its place of employment. AV Cell Inc. was fined $60,000 plus a victim surcharge of $9,000.

Val Landry & Son (Roofing and Sheet Metal Working) Ltd., pleaded guilty October 16, 2013 to a charge under paragraph 9(1)(c) of the OHS Act for failing to ensure that its employees complied with fall protection requirements, as established under subsection 49(1) of General Regulation 91-191. Val Landry & Son Ltd. was fined $5,000 plus a victim surcharge of $1,000.

J.D. Irving Limited pleaded guilty on July 18, 2013, to a charge under the OHS Act  for failure to ensure that no employee works on a machine until it is at zero-energy state and locked out by a competent person and for failure to establish a code of practice where it is not practical to lock out a machine. The charges stemmed from an incident in which an employee injured a hand. The company was fined $10,000 plus a $2,000 victim surcharge.

Edmond Gagnon Ltd. pleaded guilty on April 26, 2013 to a charge under the OHS Act for failure to provide instruction and supervision and failure to develop safe working procedures. The charge was laid in response to an incident in which a trailer was repositioned improperly, causing a worker to fall and be crushed against a wall. The company was fined $4,000.

AV Nackawic Inc. pleaded guilty on April 10, 2013 to two charges under the OHS Act; the first under paragraph 9(2)(a) for failing to ensure the safe working condition of its equipment and the second under paragraph 9(2)(c) for failing to provide proper training and supervision to its employees. On June 30, 2011, a maintenance crew attempted to cool a partially plugged and overheating line containing a liquid by-product created in the pulp process by adding an auxiliary line to the system’s cooler unit. In doing so, they modified fittings and used coupling mechanisms not according to industry standards. When the crew charged the line, pressure forced the hose to come off the modified fitting and a worker sustained burns from the liquid. Each charge resulted in a $5,000 fine with an additional $1,000 victim surcharge each for a total fine of $12,000.

AV Nackawic Inc. pleaded guilty on October 16, 2012 to a charge under the OHS Act for failing to ensure that adequate precautions were taken to ensure employee safety and leaving an area unguarded when a guardrail was removed to conduct work. The charge was laid following an incident on December 9, 2010, in which a worker fell more than 3.3 metres (10 feet) to the floor and sustained fractures. The company was fined $5,000, plus a $1,000 victim surcharge.

Cummings Felim Ltd.  pleaded guilty on August 28, 2012 to a charge under the OHS Act for failure to provide adequate safeguards to prevent contact with moving drive or idler belts, rollers, gears, drive shafts, keyways, pulleys, sprockets, chains, ropes, spindles, drums, counterweights, flywheels, couplings, pinch points, cutting edges or other moving parts on a machine that may be hazardous to an employee. The company was fined $500.

On August 29, 2012, Dairytown Products Ltd., pleaded guilty to a charge under the Occupational Health and Safety Act for allowing an unauthorized employee to work on electrical equipment. The charge was laid following an accident July 26, 2011 at the food production plant that resulted in a worker suffering third-degree burns to his hand and arm. Dairytown Products was fined $5,000. 

On August 21, 2012, Parts for Trucks, Inc., pleaded guilty to a count of breaching the confined space entry regulations. The charge was laid after an accident in October 2010, when a worker who was cutting inside a truck-mounted tank became trapped and another outside the tank was injured when the plasma cutter caused an explosion. Parts for Trucks, Inc., was fined $5,000, plus a victim surcharge.

On June 7, 2012, Clair Industrial Development Corporation Ltd. was found guilty of a charge under subsection 242(5) of General Regulation 91-191 of the OHS Act. On May 21, 2010, a worker was hospitalized after his finger was lacerated when he tried to dislodge a piece of wood that was stuck in a planer. He had failed to de-energize the machinery and the blade was not properly guarded. The company was found guilty for failing to ensure the machine was modified to protect employees from the hazards associated with the lack of an adequate safeguard. It was fined $2,000, plus a $400 victim surcharge.

On April 26, 2012, Twin Rivers Paper Company pleaded guilty to an offence under the OHS Act for failing to establish a written lockout procedure for a machine and ensure that an employee who may have to lock out a machine has been adequately trained to do so. A worker was hospitalized after his hand was crushed when it became jammed between a strapper and a metal post. The company was fined $6,000, plus a $1,200 victim surcharge. The company will also make an $1,800 charitable donation.

On April 17, 2012, Dominion Refuse, and its owners TwoEx Capital Inc. and Mar Mor Enterprises Inc., pleaded guilty to failing to provide adequate supervision and training to ensure the health and safety of its employees, as the result of a workplace fatality.

The charges were laid following the death of 25-year-old Adam Wade Harris, who died December 2, 2010, when he was struck by a large dumpster bin that came loose from a truck as it was being emptied.

The three companies were fined $35,000.

On April 16, 2012, SWP Industries, of St. Stephen, pleaded guilty to charges under the OHS Act for failing to provide adequate safeguards, as the result of a workplace accident on December 26, 2010. The accident resulted in a worker losing a finger and 17 months of work. The employee was operating a moulder machine and became distracted as he reached in to alter a feed wheel. As a result, his hand became caught in the feed wheel, and he had to have his middle finger amputated. (The moulder was an older model and did not have the proper safeguards.)

The company was fined $7,500, plus a victim surcharge on July 13, 2012.

On March 20, 2012, Walmart pleaded guilty to three offences under subsection 47(1) of the OHS Act, after an accident on January 5, 2011 resulted in the death of 17-year-old Patrick Desjardins. Denis Morin, a supervisor at Walmart, pleaded guilty to two offences, also under subsection 47(1).

Desjardins was electrocuted while using a floor polisher on a wet garage floor at the Walmart auto repair shop in Grand Falls. All charges related to failure to inspect, maintain and ensure proper use of the polisher and a faulty extension cord, and for allowing an employee to use the faulty equipment.

Walmart was fined $100,000, plus a $20,000 victim services surcharge, and Morin was fined $880, plus a victim services surcharge of $176, for a total of $1,056.

On March 3, 2012, Blanchard Ready Mix Ltd. pleaded guilty to an offence under paragraph 9(1)(c) of the OHS Act for a serious accident that occurred at its quarry in Belledune. On November 4, 2010, a trucking company's employee was delivering cement powder to the quarry. As he was standing on the steps of his truck's cab, putting on his safety footwear, an unattended off-road dump truck on a ramp near the crusher started to roll. Due to loud noises in the quarry, no one was able to warn the truck driver that the dump truck was rolling towards him. The dump truck struck the driver's truck, crushing him in between. Blanchard Ready Mix Ltd. was charged with failing to ensure an employee (the driver of the unattended off-road dump truck) complied with the requirements for powered mobile equipment operators when leaving that equipment unattended. The Blanchard employee failed to park the truck on level ground and remove the key. Blanchard was fined $25,000. 



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