Territory, contractor and supervisor responsible for Lobird blast

Territorial Court Judge John Faulkner has found all three defendants guilty and responsible for the botched blast that rained rock and debris on Lobird subdivision.

Territorial Court Judge John Faulkner has found all three defendants guilty and responsible for the botched blast that rained rock and debris on Lobird subdivision.

On May 6, 2008, workers building the Hamilton Boulevard extension conducted the largest blast of the project to remove rock from the planned route.

One of the blast holes was too shallow, which caused the explosion to fail.

This sent a wave of sharp, granite rocks, some as heavy as 22 kilograms, flying toward the trailers in Lobird subdivision.

A family watching TV in their living room had a rock crash through the roof of their trailer. It landed less than a metre from where they were sitting.

Another rock shot right through a shed, finally coming to rest in the firewood stacked behind it.

A woman who happened to be outside during the blast had to dive for cover and watched as stones landed where she had been standing just moments before.

Remarkably, no one was seriously hurt.

The Yukon government, which was in charge of the project, failed to ensure the contractor, supervisor and blaster followed health and safety regulations, said Faulkner.

The contractor, Sidhu Trucking Ltd., also failed to ensure that processes under its control were safe and without health risks.

And Sidhu is guilty of failing to report the incident immediately to Occupational Health and Safety.

The incident, which occurred at 7 p.m., was not reported until 10 a.m. the next day.

William Cratty, the supervisor of the site during the blast, was also found guilty of failing to report the incident immediately.

And he failed to ensure the blaster received proper instruction and performed his work without undue risk.

Peter Hildebrand, the blaster who conducted the May 6 blast, had no idea how close the subdivision was to the blast and was never shown an aerial map of the area.

That day, he estimated that the distance to the nearest structure to be about 400 metres.

It was a mere 150 metres to the closest home.

Hildebrand chose not to use blast mats to contain the explosion, even though they were available on the site.

He has already pleaded guilty and was fined $1,000.

“We are pleased that the judge decided that supervisors are ultimately responsible for proper instruction of their workers and for ensuring that the (Occupational Health and Safety Act) regulations are followed,” said Doug Heynen, acting CEO of the health and safety board.

The board is also happy Faulkner found workplace practices must ensure the safety not only of those on site, but also the general public.

“There was some question about whether or not this does cover those outside of the workplace and the judge clarified that, yes, it does,” said Heynen.

“And also that contractors cannot delegate away their responsibilities.”

In June, the judge will determine exactly what fines will be levied on the guilty parties.

Fines should go towards the subdivision in some way, by building a playground for example, said Lobird resident Calvin Milenk.

“Right now it just seems to be government fining government,” said Milenk.

“Wouldn’t it be nice if they actually did something for the citizens up here?”

Contact Chris Oke at

chriso@yukon-news.com

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