New Brunswick

Fredericton construction site concerns raised 2 days before accident

A New Brunswick contractor says he had concerns about safety at a Fredericton construction site, both before and after a worker was seriously injured in a fall.

WorkSafeNB concluded injured man was not employed at the site

This video still is from December 2014. John Ball says the worker above the tarp did not appear to be wearing fall protection (John Ball)

A New Brunswick contractor says he had concerns about safety at a Fredericton construction site, both before and after a worker was seriously injured in a fall.

John Ball, who is a pipefitter, called WorkSafeNB on Dec. 29, 2014, to report a fall safety issue at the condo construction site at 215 Queen St.

Ball was a passerby and was not an employee at the site. He took cellphone video of what he saw.

"I noticed there were people up there who were doing their job that was very high up and they had no protection and it was a big gamble for them," said Ball.

"They didn't fall. They got the job done, but it could have turned out differently."
John Ball says he has 40 years' experience as a contractor. (CBC)

In response to Ball's complaint, WorkSafeNB visited the site the following day.

It issued a stop-work order for a worker who was not wearing fall protection on an elevating platform. Work resumed the same day.

The very next day, Ball's fears were realized.

On Dec. 31, 2014, a 26-year-old man fell 12 metres from the fourth floor of the site.

The man spent several months at the Stan Cassidy Centre For Rehabilitation in Fredericton. His current condition is unknown.

The main contractor on site at the time of the accident was Lead Structural Formwork (LSF).

Tony George, the site developer, said he had one other casual employee on site at the time.

George declined a request for interview, but he told CBC News that the injured man was a friend of a casual labourer working directly for the developer.

Both men had been staying at the nearby men's homeless shelter at the the time of the incident.

George said the man he employed was tasked with folding tarps, but only on the first floor.

George said he does not know what the injured man was doing on site or why he was on the fourth floor.

The WorkSafeNB report said the injured man "was removing tarp from a scaffolding system when he fell three stories [approximately 12 metres] to the ground."

WorkSafeNB told CBC News that its investigation concluded that the man was not an employee at the site and therefore did not recommend any charges.

Continued concern

Nine months after the accident, Ball stopped by the site again and took more video.

This video still is from September 2015. John Ball says this worker was eight storeys up and did not appear to be wearing fall protection. (John Ball)
"I see that things really hadn't changed that much. People were actually higher up and still not using fall protection," said Ball.

"I just shook my head. I couldn't believe that after somebody fell on that job site. You'd think they would kind of catch on and start using some protection."

Since the accident, WorkSafeNB has issued two more short-term stop-work orders, related to fall safety at the site.

However no charges were recommended because no incident involved the same contractor repeating the same offence.

WorkSafeNB says it only recommends charges for non-compliance and repeated offenses.

LSF had completed its work before September 2015. George said the workers in the video from that month could have been his or those of another contractor.

Construction continues at the residential eight-storey building, which will be known as Royal T Suites.

About the Author

Redmond Shannon is an Irish CBC journalist who has been working in Fredericton. He is moving back to Ireland after 17 years.

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