City of Iqaluit fined $50,000 after guilty plea to workplace safety charge

In 2021 incident, worker was injured when wheelbarrow tire exploded

The City of Iqaluit was fined $50,000 in court Tuesday for an incident in 2021 in which an employee was injured while working at the municipal garage, shown in this photo. (File photo)

By David Lochead

The City of Iqaluit has pleaded guilty to violating Nunavut’s Safety Act in connection with a 2021 incident in which a teenage municipal worker suffered an injury at the city garage.

In court Tuesday, Judge Neil Sharkey fined the city $50,000 for violating section 22.1 of the act, which deals with a failure to follow the Safety Act or failing to comply with the direction of a safety officer.

Seven other charges against the city, also under the Nunavut Safety Act, were stayed.

Court heard the incident occurred July 16, 2021. A worker was injured when a wheelbarrow tire that was being inflated blew up and hit him on the arm and face.

The worker, who was a summer student, was assigned to the office but wasn’t busy at the time so he was sent over to the maintenance garage to do shop cleanup.

At some point, the worker noticed a wobbly tire on the wheelbarrow that was low on air. The worker pumped air into the tire but it exploded, striking him on the arm and face.

There was no one else in the garage, so the worker made his way upstairs and received first aid from another employee, then went to the hospital.

Prosecutor Larry Reynolds said it’s important that when employees move from one type of job to another they get training and supervision so incidents such as this can be prevented.

But, he added, “in this situation, the city has taken responsibility right away.”

“We’re in the view that this is an appropriate penalty, sends a proper message but is not unduly harsh,” Reynolds said.

Sharkey said he was moved by the injured worker’s victim statement, for what he went through with the incident and for what he continues to suffer.

Sharkey noted that as a result of the incident, the city has implemented multiple measures to improve workplace safety.

“It seems you’ve gone from a culture of indifference in this area to one of clear attention,” Sharkey said.

He said the focus of the changes appears to involve procedures for individual training of new employees and supervisory policies for overseeing what workers are doing.

Measures include a policy for younger workers, forms for every time a worker changes supervisor, and the creation of supervisor training courses.

Teresa Haykowsky, the lawyer representing the city, added new measures include training workers in safely inflating tires before they are asked to perform that task on the job.

The city’s training bundle costs $6,000 per year and is included in its budget, she said.

Sharkey said that with the changes that were made, “the chances of this [workplace incident] happening again, are pretty slim.”

In imposing the $50,000 penalty against the city, Sharkey said a fine must be “more than a slap on the wrist” but that the court must also be mindful of the city’s ability to pay the fine without hampering its ability to function.

The city will have 60 days to pay the fine.


Share This Story

(7) Comments:

  1. Posted by Workers Rights on

    In Nunavut and the Northwest territories 10 workers were killed at work in 2021, the most recent year for which statistics are available. That year there were 2,065 accepted workers compensation claims across Nunavut and the NWT, 947 in Nunavut and 1,118 in the NWT. That same year, there were 1081 accepted workplace fatalities and 277,217 accepted lost time claims across Canada. Workers have rights to know about hazards in their work, to participate in decisions that affect their health and safety and to ultimately refuse unsafe work. Employers and governments must respect their duty to create safe work, call out unsafe work, and be part of a culture of safety and prevention.

    • Posted by Yes on

      It is a big issue that people don’t seem to take seriously.

      This case with the wheel barrow tire tho? Normally it takes around 200 psi to blow up a tire, and you have to try pretty hard to get it there.

      • Posted by See it all-day everyday on

        The problem I see in my own workplace, which is GN and employs around 60 people, is extremely low quality management that ultimately have practically no awareness of workplace safety as a serious issue. These are people who spend the bulk of their day in their offices death scrolling their smartphones and listening to internet radio. Everything is someone else’s responsibility. How such mediocrity rose to the top is baffling, but so it goes in Nunavut, as many of us know.

      • Posted by Yes, but on

        Yup, but if the kid was unsupervised and doing something that he hadn’t been trained for? That’s management.

      • Posted by maybe on

        Faulty tire?
        Freak accident?
        200 is a lot but it’s even scary going over 40 on a 32-35 PSI tire.

        • Posted by 867 on

          Musta maybe confused PSI with KPa ? Seems to happen often up here confusion with different units of measure. construction workers have often with training locals is the confusion between centimeters and inches and that has created setbacks on some projects

      • Posted by Concerned on

        A blow out can happen at much less if there is any damage already present and it states it was a wheelbarrow tire – not nearly as sturdy as a vehicle tire.

Comments are closed.