Nunavut workplace accident could lead to huge fines for City of Iqaluit
Workers safety body investigating April garbage truck injury of James Dorrington
The City of Iqaluit is under investigation for potential violations of Nunavut’s Safety Act following the serious injury of a municipal employee last April.
According to documents filed at Nunavut’s Court of Justice, Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission officers executed a search warrant at Iqaluit’s city hall July 19 and July 20 seeking documents related to the injury of city worker James Dorrington who was crushed by a garbage truck at the city’s dump April 18, 2016.
According to reports, Dorrington was run over by a garbage truck while he was trying to remove debris from underneath the vehicle, causing serious injuries that required Dorrington to be medevaced to the trauma unit of an Ottawa-area hospital.
The incident caused an uproar among some city councillors, namely Terry Dobbin and Gideonie Joamie, who criticized city administrators for not informing council of the incident until April 26, eight days after it happened.
As of Oct. 27, court files indicate the WSCC is still examining documents obtained through the search warrant.
“A report to counsel is being prepared. The seized things that are necessary for counsel’s analysis on whether prosecution proceedings should be instituted,” WSCC general counsel Shirley Walsh wrote in an approved application to retain the evidence for an additional 60 days.
In the search warrant application, approved July 15 by Nunavut Justice of the Peace Nicole Sikma, the WSCC lists a series of potential contraventions of Nunavut’s Safety Act as grounds for its officers to investigate.
A conviction under each Safety Act charge could require the City of Iqaluit to pay a fine of up to $500,000 along with potential compensation to James Dorrington.
Among the warrant’s alleged safety contraventions, the WSCC claims the city failed “to take all responsible precautions and adopt and carry out all reasonable techniques and procedures to ensure the health and safety of every person, including [James Dorrington].”
The WSCC alleges proper procedure was not followed to inspect, repair and notify employees of damage to the garbage truck that ultimately ran over Dorrington.
The warrant also questioned the quality of supervision and training to operate heavy machinery by city employees, adding “that supervisors [failed to] have sufficient knowledge of the occupational health and safety program applicable to workers supervised at the said work site.”
Following Dorrington’s injury, the WSCC alleges the city’s safety committee failed to conduct a proper investigation into the incident and failed to complete a written report as required under the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations of Nunavut.
Among the items seized in the warrant—listed in an evidence log—are maintenance records, training certificates, daily logs, video surveillance, performance reviews, driving licenses and employee files.
Also listed is an “accident investigation” document, dated April 18, 2016, as well as an incident report and witness statements from the same day.
According to the timelines given by the justice of the peace, the WSCC has until the end of December to continue its investigation and decide if it will proceed to laying charges against the City of Iqaluit.