New Brunswick employer fined $30,000 for worker death

Worker was 'crushed to death' by excavator as communication between workers broke down

New Brunswick employer fined $30,000 for worker death

New Brunswick employer Perfection Contracting has been fined $30,000 after a workplace death in the southeast part of the province last year.

Jamie Harris, 42, was killed Aug. 21, 2023 at the worksite located on Ulysse Drive, part of the Dover Estates mobile home park in Dieppe.

The employer was sentenced Thursday after pleading guilty to a charge it failed to properly maintain an excavator, reported CBC.

Worker was 'crushed to death' by excavator

On the day of the incident, the company dug a hole to find a leaking water pipe. However, it was unsuccessful.

Near the end of the day, Harris and another man were the only workers left at the job site as the hole was being filled back in.

Harris was raking around the front of the excavator before he went behind the machine to continue raking. It was at this point that communication between the two workers broke down, said Crown prosecutor Guillaume Rigucci, according to a CBC report.

The excavator operator backed up and then saw Harris's boot in front of the machine.

"It's at this point he realized he had backed up and ran over [Harris] with the excavator," Rigucci said.

Harris was “crushed to death,” reported CBC.

The employer was charged for failing to properly maintain the excavator; mirrors on the vehicle were missing, which would have allowed the operator to see behind the machine.

"That led to this unfortunate incident," Rigucci said.

The Crown and Perfection Contracting's lawyer Shawn Dempsey jointly recommended a $25,000 payment to the New Brunswick Construction Safety Association that would be used for training around heavy equipment. A $5,000 victim fine surcharge was also recommended.

Provincial court Judge Yvette Finn accepted the recommendation after hearing two victim impact statements.

‘A forever home for Jamie's family’

Following Harris’s death, Ghyslain Bouchard, owner of Perfection Contracting, launched a GoFundMe page on behalf of Bouchard’s fiance Melissa and their two young children.

The funding campaign aimed to raise enough funds to build “a forever home for Jamie's family”. 

“We want to ensure that Melissa, who is now facing the immense challenge of raising their children alone, has a stable and secure place to raise their kids and build new memories,” said Bouchard.

The campaign has raised $19,325.

In an Aug. 23, 2023 Facebook post, Bouchard noted: “Jamie Harris you will be missed and forever remembered for your hard work and dedication to the company”.