North

N.W.T. chief coroner makes recommendations in workplace death of young Australian man almost 2 years ago

The report confirms the young man’s death to have been accidental, and the result of multiple blunt injuries, including severe injuries to his head and neck.

‘The company failed to properly evaluate and monitor Mr. Vinnicombe’s skills,' chief coroner says

19-year-old David Vinnicombe came to Inuvik from Australia for an adventure, but ended up killed in a workplace accident. The N.W.T. coroner's office has released its report on the young man's death. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

The chief coroner of the Northwest Territories has released her report on the workplace death of David Vinnicombe almost two years ago near Inuvik.

Cathy Menard confirmed the young Australian's death as an accident, and the result of multiple blunt injuries, including severe injuries to his head and neck.

Vinnicombe,19, was operating a piece of heavy equipment on a road building project when it rolled over and killed him.  He was working for Allen Services & Contracting Ltd., an Inuvik contracting company.

According to the previously released findings of the territory's Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission (WSCC), the young Australian was not properly trained or supervised for the work he was doing. The company was fined $100,000 out of a possible $500,000 penalty for failure "to ensure that all workers are sufficiently and competently supervised."

Recommendations

Menard's report, released on Wednesday, goes into extensive detail about what happened on June 28, 2016.

Vinnicombe was moving a vibrating roller packer, a heavy machine used to compact freshly-laid gravel, when he got too close to a soft shoulder and the machine rolled over. It was equipped with an open-air roll cage, but Vinnicombe was not wearing his seatbelt.

Menard wrote in her report that it is unknown whether Vinnicombe fell out of the cockpit or attempted to jump clear, but he ended up pinned by the edge of the machine at the "base of the neck and skull." When emergency personnel arrived, the young man showed no vital signs.

Menard's report confirmed WSCC findings that Vinnicombe was inadequately trained or supervised by his employer: "The company failed to properly evaluate and monitor Mr. Vinnicombe's skills as a competent operator of heavy equipment."

Her report includes three recommendations to the WSCC and various Northern labour and construction associations: to promote the WSCC's Powered Mobile Equipment Code of Practice; to encourage employers to have independent third-party audits of their safety programs; and a review of safety equipment and communication devices in terms of their ability to prevent rollovers or collisions — or to protect machine operators in the case of an accident.

In a press release Wednesday, the Worker's Safety and Compensation Commission said it is reviewing the recommendations.

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