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News archive for December 3, 2013

Expert endorses tire shop’s safety practices

An expert witness in the continuing trial around a 2011 tire shop death supported the defence’s argument that Integra Tire followed safety standards and trained employees properly, doing its due diligence.

By Christopher Reynolds on December 3, 2013 at 4:03 pm

An expert witness in the continuing trial around a 2011 tire shop death supported the defence’s argument that Integra Tire followed safety standards and trained employees properly, doing its due diligence.

Two Whitehorse residents — Paul Bubiak and Frank Taylor — and their employers —Integra Tire and North 60 Petro — went on trial two weeks ago on 14 charges.

These relate to supposedly subpar safety measures and training that allegedly led to the death of 34-year-old Dennis Chabot as he was servicing a semi truck on Nov. 15, 2011.

Kevin Rohlwing, vice-president of the U.S.-based Tire Industry Association (TIA), appeared in territorial court via video conference Monday.

The 31-year industry veteran said Integra Tire’s “procedures for vehicle immobilization were consistent at that time with industry standards.”

Chabot had updated his training only five months before the incident, which saw the victim crushed by a truck when a North 60 employee began to drive it through the Integra Tire yard as he was working underneath it.

“The training that was provided (by Integra Tire) would have exceeded what would have been the standard at the time,” Rohlwing told the court.

A recurring issue throughout the trial has been whether appropriate “lockout-tagout” protocol was followed.

“Lock and tag” is a safety procedure to ensure heavy equipment is “immobilized” and cannot be started on a whim, according to Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act.

With vehicles, it can involve locking the ignition key in a box outside the vehicle and placing a tag on the steering wheel alerting would-be drivers to ongoing work.

Rohlwing said it’s not the tire industry standard to use lockout procedures for commercial vehicles, though a TIA task force is working to change that.

“I’ve never heard of anybody disconnecting a battery cable and then lock that out in order to immobilize a vehicle,” he said.

“The energy source (the engine) is effectively locked out when the ignition is turned into the off position,” with the parking brake also on and wheel chocks in place as a final safeguard.

Prosecutor Judy Hartling responded that an unexpected start-up is still a risk, however.

“So you turn off the ignition and you leave the key in it. So very simply someone could come and turn that on,” she said.

“Sure,” Rohlwing replied.

“So shouldn’t there be something more? .... Surely, someone could enter that truck ... while the mechanic is working on the truck and be harmed” — as happened in the Chabot incident.

Hartling read aloud a 2012 article by Rohlwing in Fleet Owner magazine. It states:

“...with all of the emphasis on brake and tire inspection ... the number of people crawling underneath tractors and trailers is only going to increase.

“Rather than wait for the issue to escalate or hit home, I think every fleet should implement and communicate a lock out, tagout procedure when equipment is being worked on or inspected.

“Likewise, drivers are reluctant to give up their keys, but that is the only way that a technician can guarantee that someone doesn’t jump in the cab and drive off while they are servicing the tires and brakes

“It happened to me when I was a young technician, and I can tell you from first-hand experience that it scares the life out of you.”

According to the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Association, the lack of lockout-tagout procedures may have led to six deaths in two years.

On the fateful autumn afternoon in 2011, Chabot had finished work on a tractor and told his supervisor, Paul Bubiak, that he was going to check 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.

The North 60 employee, Allan Lelievre, who is not charged, arrived shortly afterward.

He climbed into the cab of the already-running truck without performing a walk-around check and began to drive, running over Chabot, who died almost instantly.

Hartling told the court Yukon legislation states that during servicing, truck keys should be taken out of the ignition and placed in a locked box, which only the technician or supervisor can remove.

A red tag should also be placed on the steering wheel giving notice of ongoing work.

Rohlwing said the territory’s Occupational Health and Safety Act does not particularize what constitutes a lockout procedure.

He added that such specific standards did not apply to the commercial trucking industry, but rather to heavy equipment, like certain mining or farm machinery.

Earlier in the day, former North 60 operations manager Trevor Piercey took the stand to give evidence of various disciplinary measures to show the company’s due diligence.

“The company is following up on safety,” defence lawyer William McNaughton said.

The trial is scheduled to run through the end of the week, with a total of more than two dozen witness swearing the oath.

No criminal charges have been laid.

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

CommentsAdd a comment

June Jackson

Dec 3, 2013 at 4:41 pm

This is all so sad for everyone.. RIP Dennis.

Yukon Tradesman

Dec 3, 2013 at 7:33 pm

A tragic accident all around.  However, as a Yukoner who has worked in the trades all their life, I think the blame could be equally shared three ways here.  Fines, blame, etc., won’t undo the past.  Lets learn from this and move on.  No one set out to kill or be killed in this.  Accidents can always be picked apart by “experts” in hindsight.
The best piece of safety equipment, and the best safety plan lies between ones ears.

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