Work on the Children’s Hospital of Saskatchewan will remain stopped indefinitely following the death of a 21-year-old labourer Thursday afternoon.
At a Friday press conference, Colin Anderson, vice-president of buildings for Graham Construction, sent a message of sympathy to the dead worker’s family and friends. He said the incident has affected everyone involved in the project deeply — particularly the young man’s co-workers on the site.
“They’re devastated. All of them are devastated. We have counselling available to them in our office in town here and we’re also going to bring counselling onto the site,” he said.
Anderson noted that as the main contractor, Graham bears full responsibility for the safety of the site. He said the last time he could recall a death on one of the company’s projects was some 20 years ago.
Dan Florizone, president and CEO of the Saskatoon Health Region, said it was still difficult for him to process the loss of a young man who was helping build a facility meant to save lives when it opens.
“This is a sad place right now. It’s difficult because the project itself is kind of (a) source of happiness, and something that we really want to see come to fruition. So to have a tragedy like this occur is very sad,” he said.
Health Region CEO says safety measures from previous incident not enough
Safety on the site arose as an issue in late October 2015, when a forklift crashed through a window at the nearby Royal University Hospital. No one was hurt in that incident, but Graham and the health region committed to a better approach — including a new safety plan and committee. Florizone said the committee’s recommendations were implemented, but it’s clear more needs to be done.
“Unfortunately, it’s not safe enough. And that is reflected by this tragedy yesterday.”
“Unfortunately, it’s not safe enough. And that is reflected by this tragedy yesterday,” he said.
Anderson told reporters investigators from Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) had arrived at the site Friday morning. With the investigation still in the early stages, he said there was still no information on what caused a steel construction lift to fall on the young man, who was working for sub-contractor Banff Constructors Ltd.
He said work at the site would remain stopped until the OH&S investigation is finished — and that Graham would co-operate fully.
“It will take whatever it takes so OH&S gets the information they need,” he said.
Florizone added that once the investigation wraps up, all parties will have to sign off before work can continue.
“We’ll allow the investigators to do their work. We’ll see what their recommendations teach us. And until we’re assured, Graham is assured and Saskatchewan Labour and Workplace Safety is assured that that site is safe, it won’t be re-opened for construction,” he said.