A North Vancouver port terminal has been charged with 14 violations of the Canadian Labour Code in connection with the death of one of its employees last year.
Western Stevedoring is accused of failing to follow proper safety procedures that resulted in the death of Kevin Lowes, a 44-year-old worker who was killed on May 19, 2010 when his forklift fell into Burrard Inlet and trapped him underwater.
Lowes, a 16-year-veteran of the waterfront, was one of two men moving a pair of forklifts and some welding equipment onto a floating barge ramp when one of the pontoons supporting the ramp gave way. The forklift he was driving fell over the side and sank to the bottom with Lowes trapped inside it.
Among the charges faced by the company are failing to ensure that Lowes was aware of restrictions contained in a manual for floating barge ramps including specifically that no vehicle load is allowed on the ramp unless the ramp is in a particular "rest position" on the flotation tank or is supported by a barge.
The company has also been charged with failing to post signs near the ramp warning of those restrictions, failing to adequately supervise Lowes while he worked on the barge ramp and failing to properly train his supervisor. Other charges include failing to make sure Lowes was made aware of safety hazards and failing to develop a program to address the unique hazards related to the barge ramp.
Western Stevedoring has not yet entered a plea to any of the charges, which each carry a maximum penalty of $1 million.
The company is expected to appear in court later this summer.
Brad Eshleman, president of Western Stevedoring, said the company was aware of the charges but had not yet received the HRSTC's report. He declined to go into further detail.
"It's a very unfortunate and emotional incident for all of us," said Eshleman, but "as it's going before the courts, it's not appropriate for us to comment on it."
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada led the accident investigation because the dockside is under federal jurisdiction.
A report on the death from the B.C. Coroners Service has not yet been completed.