Farming accident renews calls for updated workplace safety laws

Two men are dead after an accident on a farm in southeast Edmonton.

Emergency crews responded to the scene at 3:30 am on Friday in the area of Ellerslie Road and Meridian Street where they discovered the bodies of two men.

A grain auger the men had been working on came in contact with an overhead power line, electrocuting both of them.

A neighbouring farmer reported the incident to 911.

The names of the two victims have not been released, but according to police they are 62 and 54 years of age.

Edmonton police are investigating, but say the incident is non-criminal.

The Alberta Federation of Labour says the incident shows that Alberta's workplace safety laws need to be upgraded to include agricultural workers.

"It is simply absurd that investigators from Alberta Occupational Health and Safety were dispatched to investigate the death of these two workers, but had to abandon the investigation and leave the site when they discovered this happened on a farm," Gil McGowan, president of the AFL, which represents 140,000 workers said in a written release.

"Today's farms are industrial workplaces just like any other - as this accident involving large equipment and power lines shows," he said.

Alberta is the only province where farm workers are not covered by occupational health and safety laws, as well as legislation governing hours of work and overtime, statutory holidays, vacation pay, the right to refuse unsafe work, being informed of work-related dangers and compensation if they are injured on the job.

Global News Saskatoon, Fri Dec 3 2010
Byline: Lauren Reid, Karyn Mulcahy

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