Canadian unions call for investigation after Ottawa worker killed by falling ice

A 25-year-old construction worker has died after being struck by a 12m-long chunk of ice while working in a deep excavation in Ottawa, Canada, less than two months after a similar but non-fatal incident occurred involving another worker.

Paramedics said the man who died, Olivier Bruneau (pictured), was at the bottom of a 100 foot-deep condominium foundation pit when the incident happened at 7.23am on Wednesday, 23 March.

Bruneau was reported to be conscious as fire crews extricated him using a crane, but he was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the hospital. He had suffered head injuries.

On 5 February another worker was hit by ice on the same site, but was not critically injured.

The head of a group of local unions said his organisation would push for a criminal investigation into Bruneau’s death because the ice should have been removed rather than allowing workers to be subjected to an unsafe work environment.

Bruneau was working on the Claridge Icon condominium project, a 45-storey, 320-unit condominium tower (Claridge Homes)

Sean McKenny, president of the Ottawa & District Labour Council, told CBC News: "Our understanding is that it had been pointed out to several people on several occasions that the ice looked like it could fall but there were no precautions, at least as we understand it, taken to ensure that the ice was removed."

City of Ottawa building inspectors had inspected the site six times as the construction of the building progressed, but no fines or orders under the Ontario Building Code Act had been laid, an Ottawa official told CBC News.

Bruneau was an employee of Bellai Brothers Construction, working on the Claridge Icon condominium project, a 45-storey, 320-unit condominium tower.

A spokesperson for Ottawa paramedics said the man’s colleagues were "extremely helpful" to firefighters. "Certainly they were quite upset, but kudos to them for the care they gave him before their arrival and certainly throughout the extrication process," he told CBC News.

The Ministry of Labour is investigating the incident.

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  1. Murphy’s law:” If it can happen it will happen!” – but in this case : “it had happened previously!” Surely then, in any event, a legal court of enquiry is more than justified! It should have been put right when first it happened! Was there no safety control officer to prevent it from happening a second and yet worse: a fatal time!! Such a preventable loss of a young man’s life is deplorable!!

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