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The Saint John Law Courts building. Image: Brad Perry

AIM sentenced in Saint John worker’s death

By Brad Perry Feb 14, 2024 | 1:02 PM

The owner of a Saint John scrapyard has been sentenced after pleading guilty in connection with the death of a worker in 2022.

American Iron & Metal (AIM) faced four charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act in the death of 60-year-old Darrell Richards.

Richards was injured at the company’s west Saint John facility on June 30, 2022, and died in the hospital the next day.

AIM pleaded guilty Friday to a charge of failing to take every reasonable precaution to ensure the health and safety of Richards. Three other charges were withdrawn during Wednesday’s sentencing hearing.

The company also pleaded guilty to a separate charge in connection with an incident at the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station.

In a joint sentencing recommendation, which the judge accepted, AIM was ordered to pay $107,000 to the New Brunswick Community College to set up a scholarship in Richards’ name.

Michael Cormier, a vice-president at AIM, declined to comment following the sentencing hearing.

Court heard that Richards suffered life-threatening injuries while cutting into a calender roll with a circular saw.

“Approximately 3,750 pounds of material under at least 1,500 tons of pressure released with enough force to send pieces of material several feet into the air and dispersed across the job site,” according to the agreed statement of facts read by Judge Claude Haché.

The release caused a deep laceration to Richards’ groin area, severing his femoral artery and causing severe blood loss.

Court heard the calender roll came from an AIM facility in Maine, which “was aware of the hazards associated with dismantling the calender rolls and had developed their own procedures.”

That included using a cutting torch, using a demolition shear excavator attachment, and setting a 70-foot safety zone excluding anyone not actively decommissioning the roll.

“These were not written procedures. AIM New Brunswick had no experience dismantling the calender rolls and were unaware of the dangers associated with them,” said Haché.

In the Point Lepreau incident, AIM pleaded guilty to failing to keep unqualified employees from working closer than 3.6 metres to a powered utility line.

Court heard that on Dec. 3, 2021, the boom of a truck being used to remove scrap metal collection cans came into contact with an electric utility line.

While no one was injured in that incident, according to the agreed statement of facts, the truck burned to the ground.

AIM was ordered to pay $100,000 in connection with Richards’ death and $7,000 in connection with the Point Lepreau incident.