Coroner's inquest into the death of Olivier Bruneau: the puzzle takes shape
On the day of the fatal accident, large chunks of ice were visible on the walls of the excavation (archives).
Day 2 of the coroner's inquest into the death of Olivier Bruneau, which occurred on March 23, 2016 at a construction site in ;Ottawa, a first witness gave the jury an idea of the unfolding of events leading up to the fatal accident.
At the time, Michel Thériault was working as a handyman and health and safety manager at Claridge Homes, the developer of the Icon condo tower site, where Mr. Bruneau was based. x27;was crushed by a block of ice that had broken away from one of the walls.
Mr. Thériault was tasked with removing snow at the entrance and exit of the site to minimize the dangers of slipping to which the workers were exposed, particularly on the stairs.
Clean Water Works was commissioned to remove the blocks of ice along the walls. The company used a system of high-pressure garden hoses to loosen the chunks of ice from the structure with a jet at a temperature of 88 degrees Celsius.
Their operation took place in the evening when the site workers were at home. However, the sun sometimes melted part of the icy wall during the day, which worried some site employees, according to Thériault.
Olivier Bruneau died on a construction site in Ottawa, March 23, 2016.
However, documents prove that on the day of the fatal accident, Clean Water Works had not been on site since February 26, nearly a month ago.
If I remember correctly, there was a period of two or three weeks during which there was no ice on the walls, recalls the one who was partly responsible for safety on the site.
“Someone started screaming, so we headed towards the noise. That's when I saw Olivier in the fetal position. A worker then took off his coat to shelter Olivier while I called 9-1-1. I then guided the paramedics to the scene of the accident so that they could do their job.
— Michel Thériault, a health and safety manager at Claridge Homes
Mr. Thériault had also had to submit a report a few months earlier, when a first block of ice fell on a worker's back. He escaped without major injuries, with a red mark on one of his shoulders.
According to the witness, he was not experienced enough to prevent all the risks on such a large site.
I was relatively new to the company and I got my start as a safety manager on a 20-foot-deep job site for a five-story building, points out the handyman.
Eighteen months later, I was transferred to the site of the tallest building in Ottawa in the deepest hole in Canada. I had no training in how to deal with the presence of ice in an excavation site. To my knowledge, there was no law at the time to dictate how to get rid of the ice safely, laments Mr. Thériault.
Earlier in the day, the Regional Director of the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development (MTIFDC), Malcolm McKay, also testified to explain the different procedures to follow when a danger is identified on a construction site.
In all, the coroner's inquest is expected to hear a total of 16 witnesses over a period of 9 days. It is available to the public in both official languages through instant translation.