Second Death in Six Months Leads to Employer Paying Largest Possible Fine


Employer to Pay Largest Possible Fine
The owner of Yukon's (Canada) Wolverine Mine has settled and agreed to pay a $150,000 fine, the largest possible, following an accident two years ago that killed a worker, according to a report from The Canadian Press.
Yukon Zinc Corp., and contractor Procon Mining and Tunnelling offered a guilty plea recently to charges tied to a collapse which killed 25-year-old Will Fisher.
Buried Beneath 70 Tons of Rock
Fisher was a mechanic for Procon when he was buried beneath 70 tons of rock on April 25, 2010 in the mine 118 miles northwest of Watson Lake.
He and other employees had been servicing equipment used to install support in the walls and ceiling of the underground mine. The two other employees were not seriously hurt.
Judge John Faulkner was to follow up the fine with a decision on how much Procon will pay for its role in Fisher's death, but a Yukon government lawyer is seeking the same $150,000 fine.
The court heard that during the night shift prior to the collapse occurring, water in the tunnel caused the ground under the rock bolter equipment to become soft and the machine to get stuck. The soft ground had to be dug out.
Yukon Zinc was deemed responsible for, among other things, providing geo-technical support and a plan for ground support for the mine, but the company said it relied on Procon's safety program.
Inadequate Safety Program
An expert brought in after Fisher's death concluded the mishap was caused by inadequate ground support, given that the tunnel had been widened and dug out.
A second expert concluded the safety program at the mine was not ''robust or comprehensive enough for the type of operation or high hazard environment,'' the agreed statement of facts reads.
Second Death in 6 Months
This is not the first time an employee has died at the mine.
Six months before Fisher's death, 20-year-old Paul Wentzell, an apprentice mechanic with Procon, was crushed by a driverless Toyota Land Cruiser.
Procon pleaded guilty to two charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and was fined close to $100,000.
In the six months prior to Fisher's death, there were three ground falls at the mine, the court was told.
Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.
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