SaskPower found guilty on 3 counts in death of 2 workers

Workers' safety belt lanyards were not clipped when they fell 15 feet to the ground from the bucket they were in

SaskPower found guilty on 3 counts in death of 2 workers

SaskPower is guilty of three violations it has been accused of in relation to the death of two of its workers four years ago.

The incident at Weyburn happened on Oct. 8, 2020, when Scott Bill and Cole Crooks fell 15 feet to their deaths after the bucket they were in tipped.

“Bill and Crooks were both 19 year experienced journeypersons and had been up in a bucket countless times before,” Saskatchewan Judge Michelle R. Brass said in her decision, according to a CTV News report.

“Neither worker had their safety belt lanyards anchored to the ‘D’ ring located in the bucket specifically for the purpose of fall protection.”

Brass found that SaskPower failed to ensure workplace health and safety, fell short on training and supervision and did not have the proper requirement in place for workers to use a personal fall arrest system before being raised in the air.

The employer was also accused of failing to ensure the two men were trained properly on the use of the bucket truck under the Saskatchewan Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, but that was not proven in court.

The Saskatchewan court heard that the two men were not “clipped in” the day of the incident, and that that was a common practice in the workplace.

“One goes unanchored or unclipped because a worker is going up and down numerous times and will forget to clip in,” Brass said.

Oftentimes, workers wouldn’t even realize they weren’t clipped in until they were back on the ground, the court heard.

“None of the workers were reprimanded for not clipping in,” the judge said, according to the CTV News report.

“Bill and Crooks were not clipping in nor being reminded by the Assistant Supervisor or by the other workers in this lax environment,” Brass said. “Thus they were permitted to work from heights without being properly anchored. But for these factors, the extreme dangers of not being clipped in and not being reminded to do so was realized when these workers were ejected from the bucket and fell 15 feet to their deaths.”

Since the incident, SaskPower has implemented a “three-way communication system” to ensure everyone is clipped in.

The employer has also made weighing scales available in the workplace, allowing work crews to keep a closer eye on the weight capacity for buckets in use.

“The Court accepts that Bill and Crooks were well trained, very experienced and knew their jobs well,” Brass said.

“However, the Court does not accept that their qualifications could identify risk associated with the limitations of the surface of the bucket truck in light of the evidence that this particular bucket had a tilting issue. These workers lacked the knowledge to properly calculate whether the work platform of the bucket could safely be used in consideration of this factor. This, however, is not to say the workers were not properly trained to use the bucket truck."