Montreal

Quebec judge finds rappelling company guilty of negligence in death of man who fell 5 storeys

A Quebec court judge has ruled that a rappelling company hired for a charity event in downtown Montreal in 2017 was criminally negligent of the safety of its employee, a 33-year-old man who fell five storeys and died. 

Ropes weren't properly installed, employees not fully trained, according to CNESST investigation

The 33-year-old man died while face-first rappelling, or deepelling, down the side of a building in downtown Montreal before a charity event in October 2017. (Conrad Fournier/Radio-Canada)

A Quebec court judge has ruled that a rappelling company hired for a charity event in downtown Montreal in 2017 was criminally negligent of the safety of its employee, a 33-year-old man who fell five storeys and died. 

Quebec's workplace health and safety board (CNESST) pursued the company in court after it found the company, called Décalade, "seriously compromised the health, safety and physical integrity" of the employee. 

The employee, identified in a 2018 CNESST news release as Joseph Brouillard, involved in a fundraiser called Jumping for Freedom put on by the Montreal branch of Amnesty International the day of the accident, Oct. 14, 2017. 

Brouillard was face-first rappelling, or deepelling, down the side of the Centre for Sustainable Development on Sainte-Catherine Street, when the rope he was attached to gave way. 

Company owner failed to make sure installation was safe

A climbing expert consulted in the CNESST's investigation says Brouillard was attached to the wrong rope.

In the court decision published Tuesday, Quebec Court Justice Bousquet wrote Luc Maillette, Décalade​​​​​​'s owner, hadn't installed the rope properly, and didn't double-check that Brouillard was going down on the right one. 

Maillette told the CNESST Brouillard had decided to go on a test run before the event started, to make sure the installation was safe. 

Bousquet also noted in her decision that none of the two Décalade employees present had been fully trained to inspect the installation before Brouillard went down. 

"The accident this worker was a victim of is the direct and immediate result of the several failures of his employer," Bousquet wrote. 

The company was not present during the trial and had chosen not to defend itself. The Quebec Occupational Health and Safety Act offence carries a fine of up to $150,000. 

The exact amount Décalade will have to pay is expected to be determined later this month. 

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