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Brussels company fined for fatal work incident

STRATFORD – A Brussels-based contracting company has been fined $150,000 after pleading guilty to improper use of equipment pertaining to an incident that killed one of its workers west of Listowel in 2018.

Following an extensive investigation by the (then) Ontario Ministry of Labour, it was found that Kurtis Smith Excavating Inc. used improper methods to install a steel/cement bollard (pillar) that was being placed in an excavation to protect a wellhead. It resulted in the death of employee Nash Aitchison, 28, of Lucknow, who was in the excavation when the suspended 1,600-pound bollard broke free of the chain supporting it, fell into the excavation and tipped over onto the victim.

The incident took place at a Perth Line 86 construction site east of Molesworth on May 30, 2018. Aitchison was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to a court bulletin released by the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, the metal chain used to hoist the bollard with an excavator bucket attachment was inappropriate for its intended use and not designed for hoisting.

“The chain was designed and manufactured to secure material in place, for example, to fasten a load to a flatbed truck during transportation,” read the report. It went further, “The hooks at the ends of the chain were not equipped with a safety catch mechanism; A nylon sling designed for hoisting should have been used for this hoisting operation; None of the workers involved had received hoisting or rigging training.”

Kurtis Smith Excavating Inc. pleaded guilty to the offence and was subsequently fined during provincial offences court in Stratford on Nov. 26, 2019. Judge Katherine Stacy Neill also imposed a 25 per cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act.