OHS investigating death of commercial painter in Newfoundland

‘He was an excellent co-worker and a kind, gentle soul,’ says cousin

On Sept. 1, 55-year-old Gerard Drover died from a head injury he sustained while painting a college campus in Stephenville, N.L.


“Gerard was a man of many talents: an accomplished musician, expert sound technician, scaffolder, plasterer and painter. He was well known throughout the province and in northern Alberta as a great supporter of musicians, an excellent co-worker and a kind, gentle soul,” said Marty Gregory, president of RochLochston, a general contractor based in Paradise, N.L., in a statement. Gregory was Drover’s first cousin.

The incident occurred at the College of the North Atlantic Heavy Equipment Campus on Aug. 28, and Drover died in hospital four days later. The RCMP, Occupational Health and Safety and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner are investigating the incident.

Drover was employed with a local commercial painting company. According to Gregory, Drover was operating a scissor lift when he came in contact with an overhead industrial fan. He was wearing all his personal protective equipment. 

“Obviously there was a lockout/tag out isolation breach,” he said.

In his statement, Gregory reminds all employees that they have the right to a safe work environment. He encourages them to ask questions, never work alone and talk to their supervisor if they are in a situation that makes them feel unsafe. He said employers and owners have the “ultimate responsibility to ensure a safe workplace for all."

He also spoke to the crucial role of supervisors and managers in ensuring employees’ concerns are heard and that work does not proceed until risks are mitigated.

Gregory said he doesn’t want Drover’s death to be in vain and emphasized the importance of preventing workplace fatalities.

“Let’s work together to ensure we never have another life lost to a workplace injury in this province, country ever again,” he said. “Exercise your rights as employees: demand a safe work environment. Do it for yourself and your family.”