Alberta employer fined nearly $300,000 for worker's death

Worker was feeding boards into the machine when it jammed

Alberta employer fined nearly $300,000 for worker's death

Northern Alberta lumber company La Crete Sawmills Ltd. was tasked to pay a $295,000 creative sentence after one of its workers died in the workplace.

In the Fort Vermilion Court of Justice, the employer pleaded guilty under Alberta's Occupational Health and Safety Act for failing to ensure the health and safety of a worker.

The Fort Vermilion School Division will use the funds to provide workplace safety courses to high school students at its schools in the Peace River region, according to a CBC report.

The incident happened on March 31, 2022, when the sawmill worker was feeding boards into a planer when it jammed. Planers, also known as surfacers, are used to dress and size rough-sawed lumber into boards of even thickness.

Investigators believe the worker was attempting to unjam the planer using a steel bar when the incident happened.

Following the incident, La Crete Sawmills was initially charged with three additional counts for allowing the employee to work on the planer without shutting it down, failing to ensure the machine was powered off to prevent "accidental activation," and failing to protect the worker from coming into contact with the moving parts of machinery. 

All those charges were later dropped.

Previously, a construction worker in Nova Scotia was left with serious injuries after he was struck by a vehicle while he was painting yellow traffic lines in a construction zone.

Using the fine, the Fort Vermilion School Division will implement instructor-led safety courses for students in Grades 10 through 12, according to the CBC report.

They will also provide high school students access to online workplace safety programs, including crane safety, forklift safety and hazardous goods handling certifications.

"There isn't really a work environment that doesn't require safety aspect or some sort of certification," said Michael McMann, superintendent of the division, in the report.

"And so if we can get that training to them before they get to an employer and then an employer reinforces that, I think we're just protecting our kids in the world from these accidents from happening."

Previously, Ontario mining employer Impala Canada Ltd. was fined $50,000 for an incident that left one worker seriously injured.