Inquest jury recommendations include changes to skylights, working at height restrictions
Recommendations made by an inquest jury are not binding
After hearing from family, witnesses and a Ministry of Labour inspector, the five-person inquest jury delivered recommendations following two 2016 construction project deaths in Windsor.
The inquest into the deaths of Brian Iszak and Robert Morneau wrapped up after three days of witness testimony, some of which said the precautions in place weren't enough the days the two men fell to their deaths.
Iszak died July 26, 2016 after falling through a flat roof and landing on the floor below at the Dougall Avenue Goodlife Fitness on July 15.
Morneau died November 2016 after falling through a skylight while working on the roof at Ventra Plastics.
Recommendations from the jury include:
- Include a section related specifically to hazards regarding skylights on the work site.
- Make sure daily records of site inspections be kept and made available project-to-project.
- When openings are exposed, human spotters should be required.
- An amendment to the building code requiring permanent equipment for working at heights be available.
- Skylights should be designed to be capable of withstanding higher loads, or be equipped with rigging to prevent falling.
While speaking with reporters, Ontario coroner David Eden said he will now send the jury's recommendations to the province's chief coroner, who will forward them to the Ministry of Labour, National Research Council of Canada and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
Eden explained recommendations made by an inquest jury aren't mandatory, adding that they do carry "considerable moral weight."
"Most recommendations made by juries — the effect that the jury wanted is achieved, even if the exact mechanism they suggested doesn't necessarily follow," he said.
He added that he's optimistic the responsible ministries will address the issue of workers potentially falling through roof skylights.
"For me, the most important thing is that workers are looking for hazards and when they find a hazard, making sure that they don't get injured and no other worker gets injured," said Eden.
'Grateful for the recommendations,' says mother of deceased worker
Robert Morneau's mother told reporters she was "grateful for the recommendations" made by the jury.
"I just hope that they come to be sooner than later, that this never happens to anyone else, that no family ever has to endure what we've endured," she said.
Brian Izsak's brother John told reporters he believed the recommendations were "well thought out."
"The inquest has made me a whole new respect for skylights," he said. "I've been on roofs before and never thought of them as a hazard. Now I do."
He added that he hopes the recommendations are implemented quickly, "so no other families have to go through this."