Death on the job: Review underway after N.L. judge criticizes ‘completely inadequate’ worker death probe – Newfoundland & Labrador

The Newfoundland and Labrador government and RCMP won’t speak about what measures, if any, they will take to address the concerns of a judge who described a recent occupational health and safety investigation into a fatal accident as “completely inadequate.”

A Trepassey man died two years ago, after he fell through a skylight while working on the roof of a building in the town. The police report said no harness was in use at the time of the accident.

His employer, Southern Construction (1981) Ltd. was charged with four occupational health and safety violations.

In September, Judge James Walsh dismissed the charges.

While the judge noted that the company was “safety conscious” and had a safety plan in place, he also took aim at the investigation by the Mounties and provincial occupational health and safety officials.

Service NL Minister Sherry Gambin-Walsh declined interview requests, noting that the matter is under review.

The RCMP did not respond to repeated messages from CBC News.

Meanwhile, experts say work needs to be done nationally to educate investigators, and labour groups are lobbying for action to ensure that similar mistakes don’t happen in the future.

‘Rough estimates and speculation’

CJ Curtis was just 20 when he died, in June 2015.

“In my opinion, this matter was very poorly investigated,” Judge James Walsh told the court in dismissing charges against Curtis’s employer, Southern Construction.

“There is no evidence before me that the accident scene was secured for investigative purposes immediately after the incident. The scene needed to be preserved.”

Walsh added that neither the RCMP nor occupational health and safety investigators took measurements of the various points at the incident site.

“The evidence before me is full of rough estimates and speculation,” Walsh said.

Judge James Walsh described the occupational health and safety investigation into a 2015 fatal accident as “completely inadequate.” (Glenn Payette/CBC News)

He also noted that no photos were taken at the scene until more than eight hours after the incident occurred.

“This investigation was completely inadequate,” Walsh said.

“The event of June 16, 2015, in which Mr. Curtis lost his life, is tragic. The Crown has, I conclude, conceded that the company had done what it was required to do with regard to his safety.”

The judge added: “Southern Construction presents as a good corporate citizen that is very safety conscious. It has a safety…

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