Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for December 2, 2013

Employees were improperly trained, expert testifies

The testimony of an expert witness cast doubt on whether proper training had been carried out by two supervisors and their employers, currently on trial for that very issue related to the death of Dennis Chabot.

By Christopher Reynolds on December 2, 2013 at 3:41 pm

The testimony of an expert witness cast doubt on whether proper training had been carried out by two supervisors and their employers, currently on trial for that very issue related to the death of Dennis Chabot.

The territorial court case concerns an incident at Integra Tire, where Chabot, a 34-year-old tire shop technician, was crushed more than two years ago while servicing a semi truck.

Two Whitehorse residents — Paul Bubiak and Frank Taylor — and their employers — Integra Tire and North 60 Petro — went on trial two weeks ago on a total of 14 charges pertaining to improper training, which allegedly led to the fatal incident.

William Turnbull, president of a Calgary-based transportation safety company, took the stand for several days last week.

He had conducted a report several months after the incident based on witness reports, video footage, photos and measurements by RCMP.

North 60 “failed to ensure that Mr. Lelievre was properly trained,” Turnbull said last Thursday. He was referring to driver Allan Lelievre, who accidentally ran over Chabot on Nov. 15, 2011.

Lelievere did not walk around the truck before climbing into the cab or carry out the “pre-trip inspection required by regulations,” he said.

Turnbull noted a walk-around, which includes a “23-point inspection” of the tractor, is required by Transport Canada’s national safety code every time a driver leaves the vehicle, even for a bathroom break.

“But that isn’t something that’s required if he’s taking it three blocks to the tire shop,” said North 60 lawyer William McNaughton.

“It is required,” Turbull replied. “He’s taking it out on a public highway.”

Chabot had finished work on the truck and told his supervisor, Paul Bubiak, that he was just going to recheck the torque on the wheel nuts.

Bubiak phoned North 60 to say the tractor was ready, and went outside the shop to start the vehicle so it could warm up.

“Starting the truck to warm it up — that’s OK, right?” asked McNaughton.

“I’m not a proponent of starting anything until the customer shows up,” Turnbull said.

He noted the presence of a torque wrench at the scene, which might, if visible, have indicated to any potential drivers that work on the truck was ongoing.

“There isn’t any evidence that the torque wrench was there when Mr. Lelievre showed up,” a defence lawyer said.

“But there wasn’t any evidence that it wasn’t there either, because Mr. Lelievre didn’t do a walk-around,” Turnbull replied.

A tag attached to the truck apparently indicated the wheels had already been torqued.

“So you’d expect that everything is done,” the defence stated.

“I wouldn’t expect anything,” Turnbull said. “No, Sir, I wouldn’t.”

He said wheel chocks — placed against the wheels during servicing to prevent movement — did not seem to be in use.

The defence pointed out they were near the scene and may well have been in use.

“They were tucked up by the door,” Turnbull responded. “They could have been there a week.”

Last Wednesday, Turnbull said Integra Tire procedures were sub-standard in certain areas according to Yukon safety standards.

He said the company did not train employees adequately in lockout and tagout procedures — safety methods to ensure potentially dangerous machines are shut off and kept off during work or repair.

The defence questioned Turnbull’s legitimacy as an expert as well as his assumptions about how events transpired in his report.

At one point, the defence tried to start a run-through of all 98 documents related to Turbull’s report, a process “so laborious, tedious and unnecessary that I’m not going to permit it,” Judge John Faulkner said.

“It’s like watching paint dry.”

Last week, the court also heard paramedics tell of their efforts to revive Chabot as he lay in the yard behind Integra Tire that fateful Tuesday afternoon.

Earlier this year, Faulkner dismissed an application by all four defendants to have some of their charges — breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act — dismissed.

“What the defendants forget is that liability may fall not only on the principal offender” — potentially Lelievre — “but on anyone who aids and abets or is otherwise a party to the offence,” he wrote in the decision.

“The duties under the act are not water-tight compartments. Safety is a shared concern.”

Faulkner cited Yukon Supreme Court Judge Ron Veale to cement his ruling.

According to Veale, the act “creates overlapping obligations between owners, employers and constructors to ensure every participant in the ... project has a safety focus.”

Faulkner concluded: “There is thus a broad obligation on employers (and supervisors) to ensure that proper processes, techniques and procedures are adopted and used so as to prevent or reduce risk to health and safety in the workplace….”

No criminal charges have been laid.

Bubiak and Taylor would not face jail time if convicted of any charges.

CommentsAdd a comment

Adele Sandrock

Dec 2, 2013 at 8:19 pm

Does anybody know why the Porter Creek death of 5 people and 2 pets is not in court? Why is the negligent landlord not
being charged?

I am asking this out of interest and I do have no intention to
make this current case less important.

eyes are a rollin'

Dec 3, 2013 at 1:01 pm

I’m sure these employees were trained properly.  Training someone doesn’t mean that they will follow the procedures—that is up to them.  And I’m sure every time the bosses were watching, they followed every protocol and procedure.

Unfortunately too many people have that “it will never happen to me” mentality when it comes to their personal safety.  And even with this, both probably had their own thoughts—Denis that it would only take a second and that gives the driver time to get there…and the driver thinking that they said it was ready to go, why would someone be under it?

This was an accident through and through and I don’t know why everyone has to have their names dragged through the mud to basically prove nothing.  There was an accident.  That’s very unfortunate.  Sadly someone lost their life.  And I bet now anyone having anything to do with this will NEVER fail to meet safety requirements again.

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