Less than two months before 25-year-old Olivier Bruneau was killed by a chunk of ice in a condominium construction pit on Preston Street, the Ministry of Labour investigated an incident involving a different worker who was hit by ice at the same site.

The construction worker hit by ice on Feb. 5, 2016 was not critically injured, the Ministry of Labour told CBC News in an email.

Ottawa rescue Claridge 505 Preston Street construction worker March 23 2016

Firefighters and paramedics used a crane to perform a high-angle rescue of a construction worker who was hit by a large chunk of ice at the bottom of this construction pit on Preston Street. (Scott Stilborn/Ottawa Fire Services)

On the morning of March 23, Bruneau was working on the foundation of the Claridge Icon condominium building at 505 Preston Street when a 12-metre-long mass of ice slid off the wall and crashed to the bottom of the pit.

Bruneau was conscious when paramedics arrived, but soon began to slip in and out of consciousness, and eventually lost vital signs as he was being lifted out of the pit.

Bruneau was an employee of Bellai Brothers Construction Ltd.

The head of a group representing nearly 100 Ottawa-area unions told CBC News Wednesday that he will push for criminal charges in Bruneau's death. Sean McKenny, president of the Ottawa & District Labour Council, said the ice could have been removed rather than allowing workers to be subjected to an unsafe work environment.

City of Ottawa building inspectors have inspected the site six times as the construction of the building progresses, but no fines or orders under the Ontario Building Code Act have been laid, the city told CBC News.

Claridge declined an interview request but sent a statement late Thursday night expressing the company's condolences.

"Claridge Homes is deeply saddened by the tragic events that took place at the Preston Street construction site yesterday afternoon," the statement said.

"Olivier Bruneau was a well-liked and hard working young man who will be missed. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family and loved ones. We will be cooperating with the Ministry of Labour throughout this process."

Ministry of Labour orders

The Ministry of Labour issued three orders to Claridge on Wednesday following an early investigation into Bruneau's death:

  • Ensure walls of an excavation shall be stripped of loose rock or other material that may slide, roll, or fall upon a worker.
  • Submit a plan for review by the Ministry of Labour as to how the constructor shall remove ice buildup on the walls of the excavation before workers enter the excavation on the lower level of the project.
  • Provide documentation regarding site plan and safety talks relating to falling ice.

Another six orders were issued to Bellai Brothers Construction Ltd.:

  • Provide documentation regarding the employment of the deceased worker.
  • Ensure all equipment is used in accordance with operating manuals issued by manufacturer.
  • Ensure precautions are used to prevent a worker from falling, i.e., a guardrail system.
  • Ensure precautions are used to prevent a worker from falling through an opening on a work surface. A protective covering that completely covers the opening shall be securely fastened and identified.
  • Place a ladder on a firm footing.
  • Ensure that no productive work takes place until all orders have been complied with.

The Ministry of Labour also issued an order to sub-contractor ABF Armatures Bois Franc Inc. to "provide documentation regarding safety meetings related to ice and small stone fragments falling from excavation walls."

The investigation continues.


  • The Ministry of Labour initially told CBC News that it issued nine orders to Claridge following Bruneau's death. The ministry later told CBC News that six of those nine orders were issued to Bellai Brothers Construction Ltd.
    Mar 24, 2016 5:55 PM ET