‘Ottawa’ Ministry of Labour Lays Charges Nearly a Year after Man was Killed by Falling Ice at Work
Nearly a year after a falling slab of ice killed 25-year-old surveyor Olivier Bruneau, Ontario’s Ministry of Labour has laid charges against two construction companies and two supervisors in the March 23, 2016, worksite tragedy at the Claridge Icon condo tower.
Following the incident, a ministry inspector issued multiple safety-related orders against Claridge Homes, builder of the Claridge Icon project at Preston and Carling Avenue, and against Gatineau subcontractor Bellai Brothers Construction Ltd., which employed Bruneau as a surveyor.
Bruneau was at the bottom of a 31-metre pit when he was struck and killed by the piece of falling ice.
Ottawa Labour Council president Sean McKenney called for criminal charges after it was revealed workers at the project at 505 Preston St. had, on several occasions, pointed out unsafe conditions due to the accumulation of ice.
Police confirmed Thursday that their investigation remains ongoing.
Ministry spokeswoman Janet Deline confirmed that an inspector had visited the site six weeks prior to the fatal incident after another worker was struck by falling ice on Feb. 5, 2016. That worker was apparently not seriously hurt.
On Wednesday, the ministry laid multiple charges against Claridge Homes and Bellai Brothers under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, each for allegedly failing to ensure proper measures and procedures were carried out on the project.
Claridge was also charged with failing, as a constructor, to ensure the health and safety of workers, and Bellai Brothers was charged with failing, as an employer, to “take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker at (the Claridge Icon) project.”
Two supervisors – one from each company – also face related charges of failing to ensure workers were working properly with “protective devices, measures and procedures.”
A first appearance in Ontario Court of Justice is scheduled for March 30.
Bruneau’s family has been outspoken in calling for a “zero tolerance” approach to unsafe working conditions, with his father Christian Bruneau also pushing for a criminal investigation into his son’s death.
“This should never have happened in the first place, and it should never, ever repeat again,” Bruneau said at a National Day of Mourning gathering in Ottawa weeks after his son’s death.
“There is no excuse. Workers have the right to come back home at the end of the day and look after their loved ones,” he said while standing beside his wife, his two daughters and Bruneau’s girlfriend.
In an outpouring of grief from friends and family, friends of Bruneau posted condolences and remembrances of the young Gatineau man, who attended École Secondaire de L’Île and later studied at La Cité Collegiale.
Following the workplace fatality, Claridge Homes issued a statement saying the company was “deeply saddened” by the “tragic events” that led to Bruneau’s death.
“Olivier Bruneau was a well-liked and hard-working young man who will be missed,” the company said. “Our hearts and prayers go out to his family and loved ones.”