Toronto high rise accident death raises industry safety concerns


GTA Construction Report staff writer

The death of a 20 year old, who plunged according to published reports 22 floors from a downtown construction high-rise site on July 23, has stirred reaction and concern about the industry’s safety practices.

The individual, whose name was not released at press time, was working on a condo project at 65 St. Mary St., between Wellesley and Bloor at Bay St., the site of The U condominium project developed by the Pemberton Group.

The Ministry of Labour is investigating.

Ontario’s chief prevention officer George Gritziotis said in a statement he was saddened by the death.

“My heart goesout tothe workers’familyand colleagues,” he said.  “Workplacefallsfromheightsarehappeningfar tooofteninourprovince.”

“It istotallyunacceptablethat thesekindsof tragediescontinuetopersist.  A job isaboutmaking aliving,not riskingyour life.”

Gritziotis said that falls from height continue to be a leading cause of injuries and fatalities in all sectors, especially construction. “Terrible tragedies like this underlie the need for all of us to increase our vigilance in preventing these kinds of incidents from happening.”

This is the second fall resulting in a death of a construction worker this year, and indicates that there are still problems after Christmas Eve accident in 2009 that led to initiatives including the establishment of the office of the chief prevention officer and Gritziotis’ appointment.

“It is absolutely unacceptable that five years after the Kipling Ave. swing-stage deaths of four workers we are still seeing falls that are costing workers their lives,” said Patrick Dillon, business manager of the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario.

“It’s time that we take stronger action that shows the impact that workplace deaths have on the family and the community,” Dillon said. “I believe that all managers, executives and owners of companies where a workplace death takes place should be compelled to attend (subject to the family’s wishes) the funeral of workers who die on the job. The Minister of Labour, chief prevention officer, Chair of WSIB and all those who are responsible for workplace safety should also be required to attend.”

“Until we change attitudes about workers’ safety, these tragic events will continue to rip apart families, cause trauma in the workplace and create a climate of fear for workers. Government and industry must take this issue head-on if we want to avoid more funerals.”

The solution, says Dillon, is “stronger construction regulations beefed up with better and more stringent enforcement. In addition, we need more inspectors from the trades that have real-world construction experience so they know what to look for on a site.”

“The prevention leadership in this province is not sensitized to the death of workers,” said Dillon. “If they were, then they wouldn’t look at these deaths as numbers and would work harder to ensure that these types of totally preventable deaths do not occur in Ontario. Our goal should be zero workplace fatalities now.”

The Pemberton Group, meanwhile, issued a statement saying that it deeply regrets the accident. “The company expresses its sincere condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of the worker.”

“Pemberton Group is committed to health and safety on all of its building sites, and will assist with any investigation of this matter by relevant authorities,” the statement said.


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