Companies fined for Chabot’s death

A portion of the fines following the death of a Whitehorse tire shop worker will go towards training others in the importance of a lockout procedure.

A portion of the fines following the death of a Whitehorse tire shop worker will go towards training others in the importance of a lockout procedure.

Territorial Court judge John Faulkner sentenced Integra Tire, North 60 Petro and North 60 supervisor Frank Taylor for their roles in the 2011 death of Denis Chabot.

The 34-year-old man was crushed beneath a North 60 truck he had been working on at the tire shop.

Integra Tire – which is listed in court documents as Yukon Tire – was fined $48,750. The judge ordered that $20,000 of that fine go to the Northern Safety Network Yukon.

The network is funded by the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board. “The goal of the NSNY is to foster a commitment to occupational health and safety among Yukon workers and employers,” its website says.

North 60 was fined $43,000, $20,000 of which will go to the network.

The judge ordered that the money be used exclusively to train Yukoners about the importance of lockout procedures.

In Taylor’s case, the judge suspended his sentence. He ordered the supervisor to pay $3,000 to a charity of the Chabot family’s choosing.

Faulkner said he trusted that at the end of the day “these defendants would now say safety doesn’t cost, it pays.”

In January, the two companies and Taylor were each found guilty of one offence under the territory’s Occupational Health and Safety Act after a trial.

Both North 60 and Taylor “failed to adequately train their worker ‘in the safe operation and related safe work procedure’ of the Kenworth truck,” the judge ruled.

The tire company was convicted for not having a lockout procedure. The key was left in the truck the entire time it was worked on.

On the day of his death, after telling his employer work on the truck was finished, Chabot climbed back underneath to retrieve one of the bottle jacks he had been using.

He didn’t know that a worker for North 60 had already come to the shop and was in the driver’s seat.

Taylor saw the driver of the truck get in. He knew the driver hadn’t done the required walk-around but did nothing to correct him.

Though the driver would not have seen Chabot during a walk-around, the judge noted that he would have seen the jacks and a wrench.

North 60 did have a policy requiring a walk-around.

“It’s one thing to have a policy and another to make it a part of every day practice,” Faulkner said today.

A walk-around would have been the “last chance to break the accident chain,” he said.

In his decision back in January, Faulkner noted Integra Tire “training generally was conducted according to a program they reasonably believed was the industry gold standard,” even though there was no lockout procedure.

Today he credited the company with acting promptly to make changes after Chabot’s death.

Earlier this week, Judy Hartling, the lawyer for the director of occupational health and safety, asked for the companies to be fined $100,000 each. Taylor should be fined $10,000 she said.

Integra Tire suggested a fine of $35,000, North 60 asked for $30,000 and Taylor’s lawyer suggested $2,500.

In his sentencing this morning, Faulkner questioned the two companies’ claims of remorse.

The judge said it might be more accurate to say that the companies are sad about what happened but have “yet to accept they had any role to play in what occurred.”

Faulkner noted there were no guilty pleas and the case was fought in court.

“No sentence, whatever it is, can restore a lost life,” he said, before thanking Chabot’s family and girlfriend for sharing their grief with the court.

The emotion “serves to remind us all of the real human costs of industrial accidents,” he said.

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