Three Alberta workers fatally injured over three-day period

An Alberta employee has died after suffering serious head injuries at an oilfield site, the third workplace fatality in the province in as many days.

At about 9 am on October 16, the employee of Bearing Oilfield Services Ltd - located in Elk River, Alberta - was working at an oilfield yard in the town of Bonnyville when the accident happened, says Alberta Employment and Immigration (AEI) spokesman Chris Chodan. The worker, in a yard owned by Tuboscope Canada, was tasked with moving oilfield pipes with a crane known as a knuckle boom picker, Chodan explains.

While setting up the crane to offload the piping, the 58-year-old worker's head was crushed between the knuckle boom picker and an outrigger.

AEI has issued a stop work order on the knuckle boom picker while the investigation continues.

Shannon Ostapovich, president of Bearing Oilfield Services, declined comment on the incident, but said that "this is a difficult time for everyone. Right now, our focus is on being there for and supporting the family and everyone affected."

The accident occurred less than a day after another worker was killed when he fell off a ladder at the Canadian Forces Base (CFB) in Edmonton. Chodan reports that at about 12:45 pm on October 15, the employee of WD Contractors Group Ltd was performing construction work on a building at CFB Edmonton when he fell.

Worker passed away later in the evening

The worker suffered a serious head injury and was transported to the city's Royal Alexandria Hospital, where he passed away later in the evening. It is unclear how far the worker fell, and no orders had been issued at COHSN press time.

The first of the three accidents occurred on October 14 at a Canadian Natural Resources Limited site near Fort Chipewyan, north of Fort McMurray, Chodan says. The employee of Ellen's Contracting Inc in Boyle, Alberta, was fatally struck by another worker backing up a vehicle, Chodan says, adding that no orders have been issued in this case either.

Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, says that the latest accidents show that more needs to be done to combat workplace injuries and fatalities. Charging that "Alberta is one of the most dangerous places in Canada to be a worker," McGowan argues that there is a greater percentage of workers in dangerous occupations.

He adds that there have been 76 workplace fatalities in the province as of July 31st of this year, compared to 58 reported fatalities at the same time last year.

Canadian OH&S News, Tues Oct 26 2010

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