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News archive for January 29, 2014

North 60, Integra Tire found guilty of safety infractions

A trucking company supervisor and two local businesses were found guilty today of breaching workplace safety laws, failures that may have led to the death of tire shop technician Denis Chabot in November 2011.

By Christopher Reynolds on January 29, 2014 at 5:14 pm

A trucking company supervisor and two local businesses were found guilty today of breaching workplace safety laws, failures that may have led to the death of tire shop technician Denis Chabot in November 2011.

The territorial court decision came nearly two months after the conclusion of a contentious three-week trial arising from an incident that saw the 34-year-old Chabot crushed while underneath the semi-truck he was servicing.

The court hearings last November and December put the reputations of two Whitehorse men, their businesses and the local trucking industry under the spotlight, as more than two-dozen witnesses took the stand with often graphic and emotional testimony.

The judge convicted North 60 Petro supervisor Frank Taylor, his company and Integra Tire of one offence each.

Taylor and North 60 were both found guilty of failing to train a worker in the safe operation of equipment, in this case a Kenworth tractor.

Integra Tire was found guilty of failing to develop safe lockout procedures or to train workers in them.

A fourth accused, Integra Tire supervisor Paul Bubiak, was found not guilty of each of the four charges against him.

“We did all that we could possibly do, that we knew how to do,” Bubiak told the Star outside court this morning.

“It’s been a long run.”

Nearly 30 people crowded the courtroom’s public gallery at 9:30 a.m. Supporters shook Bubiak’s hand as territorial court Judge John Faulkner read out his decision.

Though sick with the flu, Bubiak said afterward he was “certainly feeling better.”

Taylor and Integra Tire face penalties of up to $150,000 each for the first-time offences, with the possibility of 12 months’ imprisonment for Taylor, according to the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

North 60 may face steeper punishment, since second offences warrant up $300,000 in penalties.

In 2010, North 60 was fined $1,000 for failing to report a serious injury to a safety officer.

The judge found that the driver who ran over Chabot on November 15, 2011 received no hands-on training from Taylor or North 60 related to walk-around procedures, “designed to detect obvious problems with the vehicle as well as any hazards that would result from its movement,” Faulkner said.

He added that had the driver done a proper walk-around, he would have seen the jacks and torque wrench Chabot had been using but not Chabot himself.

“This would have alerted (the driver) to the fact that the work was not yet complete.”

The judge found Integra Tire — referred to during the trial as the Yukon Tire Centre — largely compliant with safety regulations.

“The evidence satisfied me that, far from being a safety outlier or scofflaw, Yukon Tire made considerable efforts to train its employees and to foster safe work practices.”

Faulkner said that in spite of basing its safety practices on Tire Industry Association standards, Integra Tire did fail when it came to lockout procedures.

“Lockout procedures are designed so that a vehicle cannot be energized or moved when the technician working on it does not expect it” — precisely what happened to Chabot when he was partially under a semi-truck on that fateful November day.

“I do not accept ... that simply switching the ignition off but leaving the keys in the vehicle is sufficient from a safety perspective,” Faulkner said.

“That is the true source of the danger, and the most likely way for the vehicle to become energized or to be moved unexpectedly is for another person to turn the ignition on.

“At the end of the day, the employer did not have an effective (or any) lockout procedure in place,” he concluded.

Out of a total of 14 charges against the four parties, all but three were stayed — meaning they could potentially be resurrected within one year — or dismissed.

“I think that the decision was balanced,” James Tucker, the lawyer for Bubiak and Integra Tire, told the Star.

“It did take the circumstances into account and it was a good decision generally.”

All charges were related to alleged breaches of safety training and procedures set out in the territorial Occupational Health and Safety Act.

A sentencing date will be set this Friday at 1 p.m.

CommentsAdd a comment

Josey Wales

Jan 29, 2014 at 5:43 pm

Hmmm…I get that this was a tragedy, really I do.
That said I can think of another 2 years ago where FIVE perished in a rented home…a.k.a a business.
Since we will drag business owners through a court system, the so so obvious question remains….
Why no court time for that slumlord?

Guess the family name (of that numbered company) too important eh?
That carpet that these things get swept under, must have a bison/mastodon sized lump under it by now?

Kevin

Jan 29, 2014 at 8:53 pm

Denis lived in my home for about four years when he first arrived in Whitehorse in 2002. He was full of life!!! Although I deeply miss my friend I really hope this case is over and that we can all move on. Fingers crossed!

Doug Martens

Jan 29, 2014 at 10:27 pm

A terrible tragedy made all the more painful by the intense scrutiny of the courts. If every worker and every employer religously carried out every last mandatory safety proceedure all the time, meaningful work would grind to a halt. Who in the court, or elsewhere could have predicted the events of this terrible day? If those involved could have done anything to prevent this death I’m sure they would have done it.

Dave DownUnder

Jan 29, 2014 at 11:54 pm

I’ve never had any training with walk-around, but I still do it even on my personal vehicle.
This is not a training issue, it is a cultural issue which is very hard to change even for the largest companies.
When you reduce safety to a set of rules based on training checklists you might have quality, but you do not have safety.

Agree with Faulkner on lock-out, but the truck was ready to roll and cleared for departure - so no need for lockout.
Additional work after clearance to depart: was it authorized?  if not, how can you fault the supervisor.

Just Say'in

Jan 30, 2014 at 2:49 pm

I work with Dennis for several years. This is a very sad thing to have happened however he made a fatal mistake. We seem to have done away with any personal responsibility for safety. Ultimately it should be him that is responsible, not someone that is not even present nor able to control his movements.
Reading this I was astounded to see that the driver of the truck was not even mentioned. Strange isn’t it? Lockout procedures on every vehicle that goes through a Tire Shop would increase the publics cost immensely. (Yes that means YOU) Ultimately that is who pays.
What next, should vehicles be locked out at the pumps? It only makes sense, people could move and hit someone or tear off the hose because fueling was not complete.
Who tells us what is required? It is always determined after an accident and then you just should have known. The business would have had a WCB Audit. Why were they not informed then? Oh maybe it was not expected prior to the accident? Ya Think.

Just Say'in

Jan 30, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Here is a question for you. Do you think that YTG will be charged as the employer and some Government employee will be charged as the supervisor in the case of the fellow who was killed while rounding up wild horses for the government? They better, or there will be some questions that need to be answered. These courts are out of control, and answer to no one.

sober thoguht

Jan 30, 2014 at 8:25 pm

My deepest regards for the crew at Integra tire. They are truly a great bunch there. I know they are missing their co-worker and pay respect to him everyday with the memorial in their store front. 

Please allow these good folks to move on and heal, any work place accident effects all.
You will always keep my business

ricardo colaci

Jan 31, 2014 at 5:53 pm

Yukon Tire is my preferred shop for tires and mechanical repairs. Good and fair people. I, too work around heavy machinery, even though I am not an operator. No-matter how hard you try, there always will be dangers around equipment.  No matter how much (or how little) the courts impose upon the parties, working around equipment is what we choose to do and we accept the risks.

Groucho d'North

Jan 31, 2014 at 6:46 pm

Some big money in those fines and from what understand it does not benefit any of the victims or their families involved.
If financial penalties are the punishment for whatever or whomever the courts determine to be at fault; I propose that those MOST impacted by these tragic situations should benefit from the court’s tool of discipline.
Government should not profit from the public’s misfortune.

north of 60

Jan 31, 2014 at 9:29 pm

J. Wales is correct.  What you can get away with depends on who you know.  It has nothing to do with justice.

Seen some things

Feb 1, 2014 at 11:58 am

Most injuries in the work place I have seen over the years (not saying in this case) had 1or more of these 3 factors
1. Real or self induced pressure to get er done so corners get cut to speed up completion
2 employers or supervisors saying one thing and contradicting their words by their actions
3 work place culture that requires every little task or activity be written down then the unexpected arises and the workers, usually young ones, can’t deal with the situation because thinking for yourself has been conditioned out of them.

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