Winnipeg worker dies at city's water treatment plant

A Winnipeg worker is dead after falling from a chemical tank at the city's water treatment plant Tuesday morning.

Fell from chemical tank Tuesday morning, RCMP say

The City of Winnipeg's Drinking Water Treatment Plant on Deacon Road. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

A Winnipeg worker is dead after an accident at the city's water treatment plant on Tuesday morning.

Oakbank RCMP say a 58-year-old Winnipeg man was working on equipment on top of a large chemical storage tank at the water treatment plant, east of the Red River Floodway in the rural municipality of Springfield, when he fell to the ground.

"Emergency services were called immediately. He was later pronounced deceased at the scene," RCMP Sgt. Paul Manaigre said in a statement Wednesday.

Moira Geer, director of Winnipeg water and waste, sent an email to department staff informing them of the accident and the death of a city employee. 

"It is with great sadness that I am advising that one of our co-workers at the water treatment plant was involved in an accident this morning and has since succumbed to his injuries," she wrote.

"We are working very closely with Workplace Safety and Health to determine what happened and want to assure you that safety remains our number 1 priority."

Counsellors will go to the plant to provide support to employees, she said.

"Out of respect for our colleague, flags will be lowered at all city buildings to half-mast. Our thoughts and condolences are with this employee's loved ones and friends."

City council's water and waste committee held a moment of silence for the employee on Wednesday. Coun. Scott Gillingham (St. James-Brooklands-Weston), whose brother died on the job 20 years ago while working for Manitoba Hydro, also moved a condolence motion.

The city did not disclose how long the man had been working for the public service. Geer said the city is focused on his family and co-workers.

"Our focus right now is on the family and for the well-being and consideration of the family who lost a love one. We're reaching out to them. We're focusing on the staff right now. It's a very tragic event that happened," she said Wednesday at city hall.

'A very sad day'

Gord Delbridge, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 500, said he could not divulge information about the incident until the investigation progresses.

"It's a very sad day," he said.

"Our members come to work every day and expect to come home at the end of their shift. Tragedies like this shouldn't happen," he added in a statement.

"Any time a worker doesn't make it home at the end of the day, it's a grim reminder of the work we still have to do to protect our members and all workers."

Winnipeg's water treatment plant opened in 2009 at the Deacon Reservoir in Springfield. The $300-million plant treats about 215 million litres of water daily, according to the city.

The workplace fatality is the first for the City of Winnipeg since Feb. 14, 2017, when Winnipeg Transit operator Irvine Jubal Fraser was stabbed at the University of Manitoba's Fort Garry campus.

A total of 18 city workers have died on the job since the city started tracking workplace fatalities in 1978, communications director Felicia Wiltshire said. 

This figure does not include workers who have died of illnesses related to their work, she said.

Oakbank RCMP say a 58-year-old Winnipeg man was working on equipment on top of a large chemical storage tank at the water treatment plant when he fell to the ground. 2:02

With files from Meaghan Ketcheson