Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Stagehand's fall prompts charges

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A stagehand's on-the-job fall and serious injury has prompted provincial workplace safety officials to lay charges against the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, a local union and the Crown corporation operating the Centennial Concert Hall.

Each of the three entities faces 20 infractions under Manitoba's Workplace Safety and Health Act (WSHA) and corresponding regulations. The charges were formally put before the provincial court during a brief hearing Thursday morning.

A worker was retrieving an audio cable in a below-stage area known as "the crossover" on Feb. 3, 2012, when he fell almost four metres to a concrete floor below and suffered a "significant physical injury," according to court documents briefly outlining the allegations.

He was working in "almost total darkness" in an area where there were "uncontrolled hazards," the department says.

The symphony, IATSE Local 63 and the Manitoba Centennial Centre Corp. breached the WSHA by failing to provide a "fall-protection system" for the worker, not having adequate lighting nor supervision and safety training, the department alleges.

According to the WSHA regulations, when there's a risk of a worker falling more than three metres, a workplace must develop safe work practices to prevent falls.

The department also states guardrails must be in place in that circumstance or, failing that, a "fall-arrest system" such as a safety net.

None of the allegations has been proven.

The maximum fine for a first offence under the WSHA is $250,000.

"We're doing our due diligence to address the issues," Centennial Concert Hall CEO Robert Olson said Thursday, deferring other comment to lawyer Michael Richards.

Richards said the case was in very early stages. "I'm not sure what direction it will take," he said.

Trudy Schroeder, executive director of the WSO, said she is aware of the case and was being informed of its progress.

A representative for IATSE Local 63 could not be reached for comment. The case returns to court on April 17.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 14, 2014 B3

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