Baffinland fined $170,000 following worker’s death

Haul truck driver Tony Anker, 63, died Dec. 16, 2018

The Nunavut court has imposed a $170,000 fine against Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. for breaches of worker-safety legislation that led to the 2018 death of haul truck driver Tony Anker, 63, of Stoney Creek, Ont. (Photo courtesy of Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.)

By Jim Bell

The Nunavut court has imposed a $170,000 fine against Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. for breaking worker-safety legislation, leading to the 2018 death of haul truck driver Tony Anker, 63, of Stoney Creek, Ont.

Anker, who was hauling iron ore along the Mary River tote road, about 160 kilometres southwest of the hamlet of Pond Inlet, died after a single-vehicle incident that occurred just after 5 a.m. on Dec. 16, 2018. He had been driving a Cat 745C articulated truck, also known as a Cat 745 rock truck.

In an agreed statement of facts, Baffinland acknowledged Anker’s death was caused by a variety of factors, including the truck’s speed and the weight of its load, the downhill grade of the road and a lack of training for operating a loaded truck in the specific road conditions that day.

“The training should have included instruction for operation of the equipment in the specific conditions at the mine,” the safety watchdog said.

In the aftermath of the incident, Baffinland shut down all mine operations and reported the incident to the Nunavut-Northwest Territories worker safety watchdog, the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission.

The safety watchdog also imposed several interim orders on Baffinland after the restart of the mine. Those orders are still in place, the safety watchdog said.

Meanwhile, following a year-long investigation, the safety watchdog filed 16 charges against Baffinland in December 2019.

The charges alleged multiple offences in violation of the Mine Health and Safety Act, including a failure to supervise, instruct and train as is necessary to protect the health and safety of workers, and failure to maintain healthy and safe worksites, the worker safety watchdog said.

At that time, the safety watchdog issued a reminder to all Nunavut and N.W.T. employers, urging them to take “every reasonable measure and precaution” to protect workers and others.

Eventually, Baffinland pleaded guilty to breaching one section of the Mine Health and Safety Act at an appearance in Nunavut court on Feb. 15.

In addition to the $170,000 fine, Baffinland must also pay a 15-per-cent victim fine surcharge.

Anker’s family described him the “epitome of strength, perseverance, integrity and love” in an online obituary.

“He lived selflessly and would help anyone in need, never expecting anything in return…. He had a talent for driving,” the obituary said.

Anker is the second worker to have died at Mary River.

In September 2015, Michael Levi, 51, of Arctic Bay, was killed in a workplace incident.

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