Nova Scotia

Aecon found guilty in 2013 workplace accident at Dalhousie site

A provincial court judge in Halifax has found Aecon Construction Inc., guilty in the case of a 2013 workplace injury at Dalhousie University that involved a steel beam falling on a worker.

Incident involving steel beam falling on worker led to spinal cord injury

The worker in this case now uses a wheelchair because a steel beam struck him in the back. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

A provincial court judge in Halifax has found Aecon Construction Inc., guilty of a workplace safety violation in the case of a workplace injury at Dalhousie University that involved a steel beam falling on a worker.

The worker who was injured now uses a wheelchair as a result of the spinal cord injury he suffered when the beam struck him in the back in September, 2013. He was working on a construction site for one of Dalhousie's  buildings on Lemarchant Street at the time.

The Crown argued Aecon failed to take every reasonable precaution to ensure the health and safety of a person at the workplace.

It argued the beam that was part of the construction apparatus was improperly disassembled, not safely secured as required and its pieces were not properly stored.

Crown 'very happy' with decision

"Obviously the Crown is very happy with the decision," senior Crown attorney Alex Keaveny told CBC news in an email Monday. "Not only did Judge [Gregory] Lenehan find Aecon guilty, his discussion of the many issues raised will provide useful guidance in future cases on a variety of issues."

Aecon had been seeking relief for lost evidence and unreasonable delay. It challenged the Crown's assertion that the company was a constructor. The company was also seeking costs from the Crown.

Although multiple companies had worked on the site, Lenehan noted in his decision that Aecon ​was given the authority to conduct quality-control assessments and to reject work it believed did not meet requirements of trade contacts, including safety protocols.

Sentencing Aug. 22

Lenehan said the Crown established beyond a reasonable doubt that Aecon did not exercise due diligence in this incident. He said Aecon also didn't establish the grounds necessary for the court to award costs against the Crown.

Aecon is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 22 at Halifax provincial court.

Keaveny told CBC News the Crown will recommend "creative sentencing measures that will help Aecon and others learn from this tragedy to hopefully protect other workers and their families from preventable workplace injury." 

With files from Elizabeth Chiu