Inquest into 2019 death of government worker set for November

Employer was fined $125,000 for guardrails failure

Inquest into 2019 death of government worker set for November

A coroner's inquest into the death of a man who fell at a New Brunswick job site three years ago has been set for next month. The proceedings are set to run from November 8 to 10 at the Burton Law Courts.

Presiding coroner Emily Caissy and a jury will publicly hear evidence from witnesses to determine the facts surrounding the death of James (Jimmy) Martin, reported CBC.

Read more: Farm Boy fined after roof collapse injures worker

The 64-year-old worker died on August 29, 2019 after falling while working at the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure workplace at 350 Hodgdon Road in the Woodstock area.

In 2020, the department was fined $125,000 for the incident after pleading guilty of failing to provide safe guardrails that would have prevented Martin from falling to his death.

The temporary set up for railings at the job site where Martin was working was held together with plastic zip ties and wire, the Woodstock provincial courtroom heard.

Read more: Firms hit with fines for fall protection violations

While the maximum fine for this violation is $250,000, Judge Pierre Dubé said he had reservations about imposing a fine because deciding to fine a provincial department is a "redundant" system, reported CBC. The government is paying the government in this case, he said.

Under the Coroners Act, an inquest is held when a worker dies as a result of an accident occurring in the course of their employment at or in a woodland operation, sawmill, lumber processing plant, food processing plant, fish processing plant, construction project site, mining plant or mine, including a pit or quarry.

Read more: Alberta employer fined after worker falls to death

The jury may recommend changes to avoid cases similar to that which happened to Martin.

When there are fall hazards in the workplace, an employer has the responsibility to do the following, according to the the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS):

  • Consider the use of passive fall arrest systems first, such as guardrails, or travel restraint or fall-restricting systems.
  • Develop fall arrest rescue procedures which detail how to return workers safely to the ground after a fall has been arrested.
  • Make sure the fall-arresting system consists of the required components, including full body harness, self-retracting lanyard, energy absorbing lanyard or lanyard and energy absorber, and appropriate anchor point or horizontal life line.
  • Make sure all protective equipment, clothing or devices are provided, used, and maintained in good condition.
  • Make sure PPE is used effectively according to the policies and procedures, legal requirements, and the manufacturer's specifications.