AIM ordered to pay $107,000 for two workplace incidents

Fine relates to 2022 worker death, power line risk incident

AIM ordered to pay $107,000 for two workplace incidents

New Brunswick employer American Iron and Metal (AIM) has been tasked to pay a total of $107,000 as part of an alternate sentence relating to two violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA).

The fine relates to the 2022 death of Darrell Richards and a 2021 incident where a boom truck came too close to a power line, according to a Saltwire report.

The employer must pay the total amount to the New Brunswick Community College (NBCC), which will establish the Darrell Edward Richards Bursary. The college will award the bursary to a student of a visible minority who demonstrates financial need and a commitment to workplace safety, according to the report.

The maximum penalty for the charges against AIM is $250,000 or six months in prison, according to the hearing.

However, prosecutor Wes McIntosh and AIM's lawyer Jessica Bungay made a joint recommendation for an alternative sentence under the OSHA amounting to $100,000 for the charge related to Richards’s death, and $7,000 for the power line incident.

Judge Claude Haché accepted the joint sentence recommendation.

Details around Darrell Richards’s death

Richards died on June 30, 2022 from injuries sustained while cutting into a calender roll.

A calender roll is a large steel cylinder used to press paper and plastic.

On the day of the incident, Richards got on top of the calender roll and attempted to use a circular saw to remove the material – which weighed 3,750 pounds and was under 1,500 tons of force, according to the Saltwire report 

The roll ruptured and cut Richards's femoral artery on the leg, which led to his death in hospital the next day.

Recounting the facts McIntosh read into the record Friday, Haché noted that AIM employees in Maine had safety precautions – including using an excavator and a 75-foot safety zone. However, precautions for how to handle a calender roll were not communicated to the Saint John work site, according to the report.

AIM incorrectly assessed the hazards posed by the device, believing the material to be cardboard or paper products, Haché said, according to the report.

“AIM New Brunswick did not have a comprehensive risk assessment in place,” Haché said, according to the report. “Employees that ultimately handled the calender rolls were not aware that these materials could ultimately pose a lethal threat.”

Haché described Richards’s death as “tragic,” according to the report.

AIM pleaded guilty to failing to take every reasonable precaution to ensure health and safety as it failed to communicate the dangers of the calender roll to Richards.

Point Lepreau incident

Meanwhile, on Dec. 3, 2021, an operator was standing outside of a boom truck, picking up containers full of recycling at the company’s Point Lepreau nuclear plant in Maces Bay.

The boom came too close to the power line, causing it to arc. It cut the line and the truck caught on fire, according to Haché.

That incident led to no injuries, but was a "highly dangerous" situation, said Haché.

“The voltage of the electricity and the available electrical current in regular businesses and homes has enough power to cause death by electrocution,” according to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS). “Even changing a light bulb without unplugging the lamp can be hazardous because coming in contact with the ‘hot’, ‘energized’ or ‘live’ part of the socket could kill a person.”