Nfld. & Labrador

Condolences pour in as Forbes Bros. confirms 2 employees killed in transmission tower collapse

Forbes Bros. has confirmed that the two people killed Monday on a work site west of Come by Chance were company employees.

'It's a sad day,' says Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball

Forbes Bros. says no one else was injured in an accident that killed two of its employees who were working on a transmission line tower west of Come by Chance on Monday. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

Forbes Bros. has confirmed that the two people killed Monday on a work site west of Come by Chance were company employees.

The employees were working on the construction of a new transmission line from Bay d'Espoir to the Avalon Peninsula when a steel transmission tower collapsed.

"This is a very difficult time for the family and friends of the workers who unfortunately lost their lives," said Matthew Forbes, senior vice-president of the company, in an emailed statement. 

Forbes employees are a closely knit group, and we deeply feel this loss.- Matthew Forbes, senior vice-president 

"We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to them as they deal with this loss of their loved ones. Forbes employees are a closely knit group, and we deeply feel this loss."

The company said the families of the deceased have been notified, and that counselling support is being made available to family members, as well as Forbes employees. A spokesperson for the company said one man was from Ontario and the other was from Saskatchewan.

Forbes Bros. said no one else was injured.

Non-essential work was suspended across the company on Tuesday.

Investigation launched

The company's work within Newfoundland and Labrador will remain suspended, and the site near Come by Chance is closed while Forbes Bros. gathers information about the incident.

Our entire company will work together to ensure that a complete and thorough investigation determines the root cause of this incident.- Matthew Forbes

The company said it is working with Service NL and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro to determine what happened prior to the incident.

"The company has committed to work collaboratively and in full co-operation throughout this process with these and other involved organizations," the statement reads.

"This is a difficult time for everyone involved. 

"Our entire company will work together to ensure that a complete and thorough investigation determines the root cause of this incident. At this time, our main focus is on the families of the two individuals and the well-being of our co-workers."

A CBC News investigation in Manitoba found that Forbes Bros. is involved with two of the five towers that have collapsed in that province since February.

'We all have heavy hearts'

Meanwhile, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro said it has been working closely with its contractor, Forbes Bros., to provide full support to its team during this difficult time.

Hydro said it is not yet known when construction will resume.

In an emailed statement, Hydro President Jim Haynes offered his condolences to the families of the individuals who died.

"At Hydro, safety is at the core of everything we do. We all have heavy hearts as we think of the individuals involved and what their families are going through," he wrote.

"Hundreds of skilled and dedicated people are working on similar projects in this province every day. That is why we must continue our relentless commitment to safety and do everything possible to help ensure that everyone goes home safely." 

Premier offering condolences

Meanwhile, the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador offered his condolences while speaking to reporters outside of NOIA's Oil and Gas Conference on Tuesday.

Dwight Ball offered his condolences to the families and co-workers of the men killed Monday. (CBC)

"It's a sad day when you hear the news of accidents like this," said Dwight Ball.

"We spoke with Nalcor, and their focus now is making sure that they're working with the families and the co-workers of those that were impacted yesterday."

Ball referenced another incident, where an employee died in January, while doing transmission line work for Emera.

"You're always concerned when you hear about deaths like this, and the companies will make sure they get to the bottom of this, and just figure out what happened yesterday," Ball said.

OHS workers on scene, investigating

Service NL Minister Perry Trimper, who's responsible for the Occupational Health and Safety Division, called the incident a horrible tragedy.

At the end of the day, we need to get to the bottom of what happened here.- Perry Trimper, Service NL Minister

"When we heard the news, we immediately responded with our own occupational health and safety officers. So they're on the scene now, conducting an investigation," he said.

"At the end of the day, we need to get to the bottom of what happened here."

Trimper said all employers in the province are obligated to comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its supporting regulations.

He said the Occupational Health and Safety Division does regular inspections of work sites across the province — including the site where the fatalities took place.

Service NL Minister Perry Trimper offered his condolences to the families and co-workers of those killed in the workplace incident on Monday. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

The officers will continue their investigation and issue a report to Trimper — from there, the minister said there could be no action taken; an order or directive could be issued; or charges could be laid.

Trimper said the Emera workplace death is also still under investigation.

Meanwhile, in an emailed statement, Workplace NL offered its condolences to the families and co-workers impacted by Monday's workplace tragedy.

"It is a sober reminder for everyone to be vigilant in using safe work practices in their workplace," read the statement.

About the Author

Jen White

CBC News

Jen White is a reporter and producer with CBC News in St. John's.

With files from Terry Roberts