BATHURST (GNB) – A jury at a coroner’s inquest and the presiding coroner have made recommendations to improve employee safety on worksites.

An inquest into the death of Sylvio St-Pierre was held Dec. 5-7 at the Bathurst Law Courts. St-Pierre died on April 12, 2019, from injuries sustained while working at a school in the Francophone Nord-Est School District in Bathurst.

The five-member jury heard from 12 witnesses and made five recommendations:

·         The recommendations to the Francophone Nord-Est School District made in the WorkSafeNB investigation report should be followed up on. This includes work stoppage any time a fall protection system is not in place.

·         Training is highly recommended, especially for new district employees. The Francophone Nord-Est School District should provide follow-up training for other employees.

·         A maintenance crew tailgate meeting should be held every morning to discuss safety, the work to be performed and any employee concerns.

·         A safety system appropriate for the site should be installed, such as anchor points, barriers, fixed platform or use of a zoom boom.

·         An electronic work order management system should be in place to track where employees are assigned and the risks associated with each work order so that employees can equip themselves properly for the task to be performed.

The following recommendations were made by the presiding coroner to the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development:

·         The department should implement an annual evaluation system for all departmental employees. One portion of this evaluation should focus not only on the policies with which employees must be familiar to perform their work, but also on whether employees are qualified to perform the duties associated with their position.

·         The department should ask the districts to carry out evaluations of all their buildings to establish procedures for work at heights.

·         The department should support the implementation of a permanent health and safety coordinator position in every school district within the province.

·         The department should require the districts to have an internal process for overseeing and monitoring work to ensure it is being performed in compliance with the orders of WorkSafeNB.

·         The department should undertake an awareness campaign on workplace safety targeting all departmental and district employees.

The following recommendations were made by the presiding coroner to the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure:

·         The department should assess its buildings used for educational purposes to establish whether the buildings require any work to make them safe for maintenance employees.

·         The department should consider anchor points when erecting new buildings that will be used for educational purposes.

These recommendations will be forwarded to the appropriate agencies for consideration and response. The response will be included in the chief coroner’s annual report for 2022.

An inquest is a formal court proceeding that allows for the public presentation of all evidence relating to a death. It does not make any finding of legal responsibility nor does it assign blame. However, recommendations can be made aimed at preventing deaths under similar circumstances in the future.