AIM worker's death leads to 4 workplace safety charges against Saint John scrapyard

Darrell Richards died on July 1 in a workplace accident at American Iron and Metal in west Saint John. (Submitted by Rick Richards - image credit)
Darrell Richards died on July 1 in a workplace accident at American Iron and Metal in west Saint John. (Submitted by Rick Richards - image credit)

American Iron and Metal Inc. is facing four workplace safety charges after the death of a 60-year-old worker at a west Saint John scrapyard.

In June 2022, Darrell Richards was injured on the job and later died in hospital. WorkSafeNB has reviewed Richards' death and found enough evidence to recommend charges against the metal recycling company.

The Crown has accepted those charges and is prosecuting AIM for allegedly failing to properly protect, train and inform Richards, and failing to make sure work is overseen by trained supervisors.

Richards was injured while cutting into a calender roll with a saw. A calender roll is a large cylinder, typically made of steel and sometimes covered in fibre, used to press paper and plastic. When Richards cut into it, it decompressed, lacerating his leg and causing bleeding, said his daughter-in-law at an AIM-organized news conference last year.

All four charges are under New Brunswick's Occupational Health and Safety Act. The first charge alleges that AIM failed to take every reasonable precaution to ensure the health and safety of Richards. The second alleges it failed to provide information on the hazards of handling and disposing of a calender roll.

The third alleges AIM failed to provide the information that is necessary for health and safety, and the fourth alleges it failed to ensure that work is competently supervised and that supervisors have sufficient knowledge.

If found guilty, each charge carries a maximum fine of $250,000, a maximum of six months in jail, or both.

WorkSafeNB spokesperson Laragh Dooley provided details of each charge. Because the incident is now before the courts, she said "we are unable to release the report and cannot comment further."

There were no public notifications about the charges. They were officially laid in late February, Dooley said.

Julia Wright/CBC
Julia Wright/CBC

Richards was the second worker to die on the job at AIM in a seven-month period, causing an outcry from local politicians and residents. The first worker, who was never publicly identified, died after getting swept out of a truck bed by a crane wielding a large ball of metal fencing used to clean out small debris.

WorkSafeNB recommended charges against AIM in the death of the unidentified man, but the Crown rejected those charges because there was no reasonable chance of conviction.

AIM signed a 40-year-lease for its scrapyard with the Port of Saint John in 2002 and has since been the site of fires and dozens of loud explosions. Mayors, a member of Parliament, and community members have called for AIM's licence to be suspended.