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Inquest makes recommendations for high-risk industries

By Brad Perry Feb 26, 2024 | 11:48 AM

A coroner’s inquest has made recommendations to improve safety in high-risk industries.

The three-day inquest was held last week into the death of Louis Gagnon four years ago.

Gagnon died in January 2020 after being injured at NB Power’s Belledune Generating Station.

The five-member jury, which heard from 14 witnesses, found Gagnon’s death was accidental.

Jury members also made a number of recommendations aimed at preventing similar deaths in the future.

For high-risk industries:

  • Before any project begins, a competent person or competent persons should be appointed to inspect the positioning and strength of the anchors and other support equipment (both existing and newly installed) required for the project, using the appropriate tools.
  • The entry of anyone into a confined space should be announced, so that those present are informed and the person entering is added to the attendance register.
  • Employers and employees ensure they have the necessary and appropriate materials to perform the assigned task in a safe environment.
  • The line of fire should be clearly marked (for example, by red tape) with a label indicating the reason for the tape and the name of the person who placed the tape and has the authority to grant permission to enter the danger zone.
  • The line of fire should be visually indicated during tailgate meetings. If the line of fire changes during the day, work should stop and a meeting should be held to identify the new line-of-fire zone.
  • There should be direct and regular verbal communication among all persons assigned to the same project and radio communication if the distance is too great to see or hear the persons concerned.

For WorkSafeNB and high-risk industries:

  • Employers ensure that anyone working on rigging systems are trained by a person certified in all equipment and materials that could be used on a project and that this training is always up to date.

Deputy chief coroner Emily Caissie presided over the inquest and made additional recommendations:

  • NB Power for any project either internal or contracted out, where mechanical pulling is required, requires the establishment of a pull plan completed by engineers. The pull plan should include, but not be limited to:
    • Theoretical calculation and physical verification of the applied tension on any anchor points.
    • What material/equipment should be used.
    • How and where to install said material/equipment accompanied with visual images for the plan.
    • Pull step with a checklist.
    • Inspection protocols following the installation of the material/equipment prior to the start of the work.
    • Establish a formal process that must be followed if any deviation to the original plan needs to be made.