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Man suffers workplace injury when trench collapses; charges laid

Sometimes the wheels of justice turn slowly, especially when multiple parties are involved and investigations need to be conducted. When the incident in question involves a workplace injury, facts have to be gathered by both sides, and the resulting documents can be very long. A case currently before the courts involving a company from British Columbia illustrates the time required for justice to be served.

A 32-year-old male construction worker suffered a workplace injury near Dead Man's Flats, Alberta, on June 21, 2014. The man entered a recently excavated trench for a water main running from Canmore to the area. A section of the 3.9-meter-deep trench collapsed and buried the man. Co-workers used a backhoe to dig him out of the trench. Emergency responders found him breathing but seriously injured, and he was airlifted to a hospital in Calgary.

Occupational Health and Safety Alberta had two years to file charges, and recently charges were laid as a result of the investigation. An Alberta engineering company has been charged with four breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and a British Columbia excavation company and its owner have been charged with three breaches of the act. Over 2,800 pages of disclosure have been compiled for what is expected to be a lengthy trial, beginning September 14 in Canmore.

Determining fault in a workplace injury case is not always easy. The time it takes to complete an investigation and to present the findings in court can be extensive. For a person injured on the job in British Columbia, it is very important to work with a law firm that will be with him or her every step of the way.

Source: Rocky Mountain Outlook, "Companies charged after trench incident buries worker in 2014", Tanya Foubert, August 25, 2016

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