CPR fined $250,000 over worker's death
Published: October 24th 2008
Source: Ben Gelinas and Alexandra Zabjek, Edmonton
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Canadian Pacific Railway was fined $250,000 in a B.C. court Thursday for
not properly training an Alberta maintenance man before he was killed by
ice he pried from inside a railway tunnel.
Robert Martin, 44, was killed when a 225-kilogram chunk of ice fell on
him in the MacDonald tunnel on Dec. 14, 2005.
It was the first time Martin, a Bowden resident, and his co-worker Adam
Williams had removed ice in the tunnel connecting Revelstoke and Golden.
Martin's usual job was to clear the tracks of snow.
The B.C. provincial court found that Martin and Williams received no
instructions on how to remove ice from a railway tunnel.
"The crew approached their task for the day armed with hand tools, their
physical strength and their common sense, augmented by whatever training
they had prior to December 14, 2005," Justice Douglas Allan Betton wrote
in his decision.
The judge noted that ice removal could be a relatively simple task, but
the job becomes "more complex and highly dangerous" when workers must
take down an ice column that stands five metres high.
The judge dismissed charges that the CPR failed to ensure the workers
were aware of work site safety hazards. The judge said there was "a
culture of safety awareness or consciousness" at the CPR that would have
made workers aware of such risks and would have prompted them to speak
up if they felt an assignment was unsafe.
A representative from the union that represented Martin said the
$250,000 fine was not enough.
"I don't think they'll learn from it," said Bill Brehl, Teamsters Canada
maintenance employees union president. "CP Rail has a safety plan that
on paper is second to none. It's very good. There's a lot of time and
effort put into developing it. The problem is, for it to work it has to
be followed and it has to be followed consistently, and they don't do
Following Martin's death, the CPR formalized a risk assessment process
for workers tackling ice removal inside tunnels, spokeswoman Breanne
The company also implemented guidelines on how ice should be removed,
depending on the height of an ice column.
"Before the court trial was completed, CP already responded to the
incident by implementing additional enhancements to make work conditions
safer," Feigel said.
The company said it will not appeal the decision.