Death preventable?

Students at Paul Kane High School in St. Albert have created a memorial at the school for Mitchell Tanner, 16, killed on the job in a lumberyard at the local Rona.

Alberta's workplace safety codes are under a microscope after a teen was crushed to death by a forklift this weekend at a St. Albert Rona Building Centre.

Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan says Mitchell Tanner's Saturday death could have been prevented if the province had tougher legislation when it comes to operating forklifts.

"Accidents on forklifts are very common here in Alberta and part of the problem is that the (provincial) government, nor many employers, recognize how dangerous these pieces of equipment really are," said McGowan.

"If we had more appropriate safety codes around the use of forklifts, this could have been avoided."

Employment Minister Hector Goudreau told Metro current safety codes in Alberta are some of the toughest in Canada and already do the job in preventing deaths and injuries of workers operating forklifts.

"We're not at the stage to comment on whether or not all the rules were followed (in this incident) and it's going to take a while to get a full report," said Goudreau.

"We know young Albertans are very capable of learning and capable of handling some equipment ... but we need to find out what happened here and to see if this is something consistent with forklifts."

Students at Paul Kane High School where Tanner attended Grade 10 also made a makeshift memorial for the teen along with creating a tribute page on Facebook.

Tanner is described by students as an amazing guy who was always a good friend, say students on the social networking website.

"You're the nicest kid I ever met and the world could use more guys like you," said Alex Kane in a Facebook wall posting about Tanner.

Metro Edmonton, Tues Jun 10 2008

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