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Winnipeg Free Press


City worker dies after fall at water treatment plant

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/5/2018 (645 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A 58-year-old civic employee died in a workplace accident Tuesday morning at the Deacon water treatment plant.

Members of council were informed of the death Tuesday afternoon in an email from Moira Geer, the city’s director of water and waste.

Geer said the RCMP and Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health are investigating the incident.

"It is with great sadness that I am advising that one of our employees at the water treatment plant was involved in an accident this morning and has since succumbed to his injuries," Geer informed council members and other senior staff in her email.



Felicia Wiltshire, the city’s director of communications, said the death is the 18th workplace fatality for the City of Winnipeg since it began keeping records in 1978.

The last on-the-job death occurred in the early hours of Feb. 14, 2017, when Winnipeg Transit driver Irvine Jubal Fraser was killed by a passenger in a knife attack at a stop on the University of Manitoba campus.

RCMP report that they received a call at about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday. A male employee had been working on equipment atop a large chemical storage tank when he fell to the ground. Emergency services were dispatched but the man was declared dead at the scene.

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The City of Winnipeg says 18 employees have died in workplace accidents since 1978, when the city commenced formal tracking. These include Tuesday's fatality at the Deacon water treatment plant. The others are:

2017: Transit driver Irvine Jubal Fraser, 58, was killed in the early hours of Feb. 14, in a knife attack by a passenger at a stop on the University of Manitoba campus.

2007: Doug Prysiazniuk, 36, died Sept. 2 from injuries he sustained while operating a powered lifttruck with a bucket under the Maryland Bridge on August 24.

2007: Feb. 4, firefighters Capt. Harold Lessard, 55, and Capt. Thomas Nichols, 57, died following an explosion at a house fire.

2000: Jan. 7, Len Blanco, a branch struck him while engaged in tree pruning operations.

1995: May 31, James Halstrom, a regulating gate at Slave Falls Hydro Generating Station toppled onto him.

1990: June 15, firefighter Lawrence Quinn, 40, died from injuries after falling off a pump truck en route to a fire.

1989: July 17, Manuel Silva, killed when a road packer he was operating rolled onto its side.

1988: June 24, Bill Besters, crushed when a trailer at the landfill site fell on him during a windstorm.

1988: Jan. 11, Hubert Brick, bitten and crushed by a camel at Assiniboine Park Zoo.

1986: Feb. 18, Gordon Arndt, struck and killed by a runaway garbage truck.

1985: Sept. 5, Arthur Diplock, suffered a fatal heart attack while training for the endurance test required for his position as an instructor/guard.

1984: Jan. 17, Kelley DeKeruzec, accidentally run over by a vehicle in a city works yard.

1983: August 23, Bill Lauder was hit by a car while doing construction work on St. Mary's Road.

1980: May 20, Robert S. Everton, thrown from a bus in collision with a semitrailer at Mountain and Arlington.

1979: May 16, Les Tillett died on the job doing mechanical repairs in the former Operations Department.

1978: June 16, Ron Smith was hit by a car while painting street lines on Portage Avenue.

-- Source: City of Winnipeg

The reservoir is on the east side of the floodway, a few kilometres south of Highway 15.

Coun. Brian Mayes, chairman of the environment committee, made the news of the fatality public at Wednesday's meeting and called for a moment of silence.

Mayes (St. Vital) said more details will be forthcoming.

Later in the meeting, at the suggestion of Coun. Scott Gillingham, the committee passed a motion of condolence to the worker’s family.

Gillingham revealed he had a brother who died in a workplace accident 20 years ago.

"You’re never the same," Gillingham (St. James-Brooklands-Weston) told reporters after the meeting. "I was in my office at the time. I got the call on the phone. That moment is seared into my memory and in thinking of that gentleman’s family, tragically, unfortunately no doubt, the family members received a similar notice. It changes you forever.

"Our thoughts are with this gentleman’s family today. For them, for the family, for co-workers, the journey of grief begins and it’s a long journey."

Geer, who did not provide any personal information about the employee in her email, met reporters following the meeting but offered no additional information.

"Our focus right now is on the family and the well-being and consideration of the family, who lost a loved one," she said, adding counsellors are at the plant today to speak with workers who need assistance.

"We’re just doing everything we can right now to honour our colleague, our workers and collaborating with the agencies that are assisting with us to look at this because safety for us is job No. 1."

An update report on the structural problems at the water treatment plant was on the meeting's agenda. Geer made no mention of the fatality during her presentation and told councillors that none of the problems at the plant posed a threat to worker safety.

Mayes told reporters Tuesday's fatality was unrelated to the serious structural problems at the plant.

"This fellow was not working on anything to do with the deficiencies," he said. "This wasn’t somehow tied to work that somebody else... should have done. I believe he was doing something more routine."

Mayes said the city continues to work with its unions to improve worker safety.

CUPE Local 500 president Gord Delbridge issued a statement, stating the worker had been a member of the union and offered condolences to the family, friends and co-workers.

"We reach out in sympathy to each of them and share in their grief over this tragedy," he said. "Our members come to work every day and expect to come home at the end of their shift. Tragedies like this shouldn’t happen.

"CUPE will be working with the city to ensure our members have access to (employee assistance program) and grief counselling, particularly for the co-workers who may have been there when the incident unfolded. Our immediate concern is their well-being and we want to do all we can to support them during this difficult time.

"Any time a worker doesn’t make it home at the end of the day, it’s a grim reminder of the work we still have to do to protect our members and all workers."


Aldo Santin

Aldo Santin

Aldo Santin is a veteran newspaper reporter who first carried a pen and notepad in 1978 and joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1986, where he has covered a variety of beats and specialty areas including education, aboriginal issues, urban and downtown development. Santin has been covering city hall since 2013.

Read full biography


Updated on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 at 5:14 PM CDT: Writethrough

May 25, 2018 at 10:42 AM: Corrects date of Gordon Arndt's death.

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