Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia company not guilty after elevator motor fell on worker's legs

A Nova Scotia elevator company was found not guilty in a 2013 accident that left a scaffolding foreman with severe leg injuries.

Judge found there was no evidence to show Vertical Transport Elevator Consulting was responsible

A construction site at the former Citadel Inn was the site of an accident that severely injured a worker's legs in 2013.

A Nova Scotia elevator contractor has been found not guilty of failing to take safety precautions after a two-tonne elevator motor fell on a construction worker more than three years ago at the former Citadel Inn site in downtown Halifax.

Joachim Antonio's legs were severely injured on March 19, 2013, when the heavy equipment — weighing as much as a small car — fell on him.

The scaffold foreman, who was 44 years old at the time, was trapped underneath the drive unit and suffered a broken left femur and severe lacerations, said a Nova Scotia provincial court decision released Thursday.

Antonio worked for Safway Services Canada, which had contracted Vertical Transport Elevator Consulting Ltd. to provide services related to the elevator construction hoists.

Company denied responsibility

After the incident, Vertical Transport Elevator Consulting Ltd. was charged with failing to provide safety precautions under the Nova Scotia Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The Crown alleged Vertical Transport Elevator Consulting was responsible for supervising the installation of the elevator hoists at the Brunswick Street construction site, and said that supervision was inadequate.

The defence, meanwhile, said the consulting company was only contracted to provide an inspection of the work to make sure it complied with the building code.

Vertical Transport Elevator Consulting denied any responsibility for what happened to Antonio.

Passerby helped remove debris

After the accident, a passerby described hearing a chain "snap" and a man screaming. Along with some police officers, he helped clear debris to allow access to emergency workers.

About a dozen firefighters showed up a short time later with inflatable airbags designed to inflate quickly. As the bags inflated, firefighters placed blocks underneath the massive motor, working fast to raise it off the man within minutes.

The quick action saved Antonio's legs, firefighters said at the time.

Emails and phone calls as evidence

During a five-day trial that ended on April 14, the court heard there were several attempts by both companies to make sure a Class A mechanic was available at the construction site for the installation.

Numerous records of emails and phone calls were entered into evidence.

At the end, Judge Anne Derrick found the Crown had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Vertical Transport Elevator Consulting was responsible for supervising the job and found the company not guilty.