British Columbia

Vancouver company fined in Olympics-linked construction death

A Vancouver company involved in construction for the 2010 Winter Olympics has been fined $216,000 by WorkSafeBC for workplace violations that resulted in the death of Gary Michael Greer in a blasting mishap last year.

A Vancouver company involved in construction for the2010 Winter Olympics has been fined$216,000 by WorkSafeBCfor workplace violations that resulted in the death of Gary Michael Greer in a blasting mishap last year.

It's the first fatality that is linked to construction for theVancouver Olympics.

Gary Michael Greer died last year in the mishap. ((CBC))

The fine imposed on Murrin Construction Ltd., is among the largest ever levied by WorkSafeBC, which was previously known as the Workers' Compensation Board.

"The fact of the size of the penalty speaks to our view that this is a fairly egregious departure from the duties that are expected of employers,'' said Dave Stewart, a senior manager with WorkSafeBC's investigation division.

Officials at Murrin were unavailable to comment on the incident, which occurred on June 12, 2006, when the company was engaged in blasting activity designed to improve access to the Olympic Nordic Centre in the Callaghan Valley near Whistler.

Greer, 45, died instantly when explosives being used to remove rock outcrops near the road detonated unexpectedly.

Report paints picture

In an inspection report obtained Wednesdayby CBC, WorkSafeBCsaid his death was due to gross negligence on the part of the employer, which it said failed to adopt reasonable means for the prevention of injuries.

According to the report, Greer arrived at the site on June 12, 2006, after forgetting to bring blasting equipment that was needed to detonate explosives located in holes in the rock. He opted instead to use a truck battery, which detonated while the site foreman and a labourer were performingrepairs on the firing line, according to the report.

The report found the repairs that the foreman and the labourer were doing on the firing line corrected a problem that then allowed the electrical current to travel to the detonator before all personnel were in a safe area.

The foreman, labourer and truck driver were within the area impacted by fly-rock but escaped unharmed.

If the proper blasting equipment had been available on the site, the incident might have been avoided, the report concluded.

"Because it was not, the blaster and others improvised and attempted to find alternative ways to detonate the blast," it said.

There has also been some suggestion that Greer may have been impaired at the time of his death.

A toxicologist retained by WorkSafe BC hasexpressed the viewthat some of the blaster's actions were consistent with indicators of impairment. "He was performing the blasting work in a systematic way but was missing steps in the process, probably due to his impairment," the report said.

However, Worksafe said Greer's death was due substantially to "the gross negligence of the employer." Since Murrin was engaged in such a high-risk activity, it needed to abide by certain requirements which were not followed, Stewart said.

"It's a marked departure from what was required."