Judge rules in tire technician’s death

Two local businesses and one supervisor have been found guilty of charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act for the death of a tire technician who was killed on the job in 2011.

Two local businesses and one supervisor have been found guilty of charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act for the death of a tire technician who was killed on the job in 2011.

The courtroom was packed this week when Judge John Faulkner announced his decision.

The charges stem from the November 2011 death of Integra Tire technician Denis Chabot. Chabot, 34, died when a Kenworth truck, owned by North 60 Petro Ltd., drove over him.

Four defendants were originally facing multiple charges each.

After last year’s lengthy trial, Faulkner found the two companies and North 60’s Frank Taylor guilty of one charge each.

The tire company’s supervisor, Paul Bubiak was found not guilty of all the charges he faced.

Taylor and North 60 were convicted of failing to train a worker in the safe operation of the truck that killed Chabot.

Integra Tire – identified in court documents as Yukon Tire Centre Inc. – was found guilty of failing to develop safe lockout procedures and train workers in them.

Faulkner ruled that, 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.

The vehicle was a large highway transport truck used for hauling a semi-trailer.

He did not see that a North 60 employee, who had come to pick up the vehicle, was already in the driver’s seat. The truck’s engine had been started ahead of the driver’s arrival.

“Since Mr. Chabot’s view of the cab was blocked by the sleeper unit, and since the vehicle had been started previously and was already running, Mr. Chabot was not alerted to the danger that the truck was about to be put in motion…” Faulkner said in his written reasons.

The judge said the tire company “made considerable efforts to train its employees and to foster safe work practices.”

But they did not have a lockout procedure. The key had been left in the truck the entire time.

“Lockout procedures are designed so that the vehicle cannot be energized or moved when the technician working on it does not expect it. That is the true source of the danger, and the most likely way for the vehicle to become energized or to be moved unexpectedly is for another person to turn the ignition on,” Faulkner said.

The lawyer for OHS also attempted to prove that there was a failure to effectively disable the truck while it was being worked on.

But Faulkner saw it differently.

“Having been told that the job was complete, Mr. Bubiak or Yukon Tire would have needed to be clairvoyant to realize that, although Mr. Chabot said the work was complete, there was still a jack underneath the truck and that he would later go under the truck in an attempt to retrieve it,” the judge said.

“In that sense, what occurred was simply unforeseeable and the defence of due diligence is made out.”

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.

A walk-around would not have spotted Chabot, since he got under the vehicle after the driver was already inside.

Still, Faulkner said, had a proper walk-around been done, the driver “would have seen the jacks and the torque wrench. This would have alerted him to the fact that the work was not yet complete.”

Allan Lelievre was employed as a dispatcher, not a driver, when he got behind the wheel. He was however an experienced driver who held the correct licence.

“The answer to why this happened lies in the seemingly, trivial, mundane aspect of the task at hand. The truck was not starting out on a trip; it was simply being picked up and moved two or three blocks back to North 60 Petro’s yard,” the judge said.

“That is why Mr. Lelievre, who was a dispatcher, not a driver, was asked to drive. That is why no one thought it important that Mr. Lelievre had never operated the truck before. That is why Mr. Lelievre didn’t do a walk-around, although he knew he should. That is why Mr. Taylor didn’t correct him.”

Lawyers will be back in court today to set a date for sentencing.

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the fine for a first offence is a maximum of $150,000. Second offences come with fines of up to $300,000.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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