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HomeBusinessCity of Vancouver avoids fine after 2019 worker death

City of Vancouver avoids fine after 2019 worker death

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Bob Mackin

WorkSafeBC found driver error and mechanical problems to blame in the death of a Vancouver civic worker.

But it issued an administrative warning, rather than a fine.

(WorkSafeBC)

Worker Moreno Cerra, a 49-year-old who worked 17 years for City of Vancouver, died Sept. 28, 2019 on the Burnaby side of Boundary Road. He was with another worker when the 2002 Ford F-350 city truck towing a compressor trailer stalled before the crest of the hill on 2nd Avenue.

The driver, who was not named, had collided with a parked vehicle on one of the attempts to scale the hill, but failed to stop activity, preserve the collision scene and notify his supervisor immediately.

“Instead, the driver attempted to handle the situation prior to notifying his supervisor,” said the WorkSafeBC report, from June 2020. “Had the driver followed the procedures, the incident could not have occurred.”

The driver disconnected the trailer on a steep incline but did not secure it. The jack stand wheel moved away from the curb and rolled down hill uncontrolled.

“Without the resistance from the curb, the compressor was able to begin to roll down the hill with rapidly increasing speed and momentum. The driver became entangled with the compressor as It rolled down the hill.”

Video evidence and vehicle telematics indicated the wrong gears had been selected at numerous points throughout the incident.

Late City of Vancouver worker Moreno Cerra

WorkSafeBC found the city failed to ensure pre-use vehicle inspections. The brake pedal rubber foot pad was not installed, vinyl flooring on the driver’s side had buckled and the wrong kind of shifter knob had been installed.

Instead of the actual 6-speed shift pattern of the 2002 Ford F-350, the knob showed a typical 5-speed transmission shift pattern.

WorkSafeBC also found the city failed to address the driver’s documented history of “preventable metal on metal” collisions and poor driving assessments.

The driver had been involved in preventable incidents in November 2016 and 2017, March 2018 and February 2019. In a May 2018 assessment, the city deemed the driver not qualified. An assessor recommended further one-on-one training followed by a complete assessment.

“No records were provided by the City of Vancouver to demonstrate that the worker underwent additional training as recommended,” said the WorkSafeBC report.

The driver underwent another assessment in May 2019, after a late February 2019 incident, but WorkSafeBC found that the driver’s privileges should have been suspended.

“No records were found regarding a warning of suspension to the driver or of a suspension of driving privileges as per the City of Vancouver’s policy.”

Vancouver city hall at night (City of Vancouver)

A subsequent WorkSafeBC report from July 2020 found that City of Vancouver had complied with orders on inspection of manual transmission trucks, created a new training and tracking database and improved its safe driving policy.

Two weeks earlier, CUPE 1004 president Andrew Ledger said in a memo to members that “it was with great shock and sorrow that our union has learned WorkSafeBC determined the City of Vancouver ‘failed to take all reasonable measures to ensure the health and safety of its workers’.”

“As this tragedy has exposed systematic problems, CUPE 1004 will persist in demanding changes through labour management and occupational health and safety reps to continually improve oversight over city operations so that all employees are protected.”

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