Death of employee prompts NFB to buy defibrillators for Montreal office

The man, who worked in film colourization, had a cardiac episode and collapsed near the coffee machine at work Monday.

Employees had been pressing office to get device for years, union says

The union representing employees at the National Film Board offices in Montreal says it has been asking for a defibrillator in the workplace for more than four years. (NFB)

The National Film Board is buying four defibrillators for its Montreal headquarters following the death of an employee earlier this week.

The man, who worked in film colourization, had a cardiac episode and collapsed near the coffee machine at work Monday.

According to the union, when a colleague called 911, the dispatcher asked whether there was a defibrillator nearby. There were none on the premises.

Employees have been asking for more than four years for a defibrillator, according to Chantal Bourgeois, union advisor for the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

 Bourgeois said the worker died despite "the incredible efforts" of his colleagues.

Lily Robert, director of communications and public affairs at the NFB, confirmed the union's requests for the machines were turned down.

As a Crown corporation, NFB employees are protected under federal workplace safety regulations set out by the Canada Labour Code, which does not require defibrillators to be installed in workplaces.

The union's requests were turned down because the machines aren't mandatory, Robert explained. There are 12 people trained in first aid at the office, and the building is in a central location on Côte-de-Liesse Road, not far from a number of hospitals, she said.

But after the man died, the NFB did some research into the devices.

"We got informed, we read about [the issue], we spoke to cardiologists, and we see that we missed a lot of information about the importance of that machine," she said.

"It's sad, but at least it won't happen again."

Robert says it will buy the machines in the coming weeks, and there will be one defibrillator on each floor once the NFB moves into its new building downtown next year.