Highway worker's death devastating, NAPE says
Union president calls on drivers to be mindful of highway crews
The president of Newfoundland and Labrador's largest union says her members are shocked and anxious in the wake of an incident that killed a highway worker on Tuesday.
A 41-year-old man was killed when a pickup truck struck him on a stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway outside Flat Bay, on Newfoundland's west coast.
"It's very, very sad — a tragedy," NAPE president Carol Furlong said in an interview.
"Clearly all of our highway workers are devastated by this news … It's very disconcerting for everyone."
The pickup truck smashed into a truck used by painting crews, injuring another highway worker. The deceased man was an employee of the Department of Transportation and Works.
Driving conditions were excellent at the time, with sunny skies and dry pavement.
Furlong said the incident has raised new concerns about the need for safe driving practices, especially when crews are at work.
"It's almost becoming an annual event," said Furlong.
"We had a situation just two years ago very similar to what has happened here … Unfortunately, we've been down this road before and it's never easy."
Furlong was referring to an incident in July 2011, when a highway inspector was killed when an SUV struck him and others on the Outer Ring Road.
Newfoundland and Labrador's Department of Transportation, the City of St. John's and Irving Oil were charged earlier this month with breaking occupational health and safety laws. The case is expected to be called in court next week.
The charges allege that the three employers did not adequately protect their employees.
Meanwhile, Furlong said drivers must be more careful on the province's highways.
"We would ask the public to be very cognizant of the people who are working around you on the highways," he said.
"Very often if you're travelling, especially on the highway, at a very fast pace, you're going at a quick speed and so you have to be alert and be prepared to slow down."
RCMP and occupational health and safety inspectors are continuing to investigate what happened on Tuesday. They have ruled out alcohol as a factor.
Transportation and Works Minister Paul Davis said in a statement that Tuesday's death was disturbing.
"Tragically, this has claimed the life of one our valued employees," said Davis, who said the government is co-operating fully with police and safety investigations.