Break in procedure caused fatal transmission tower collapse: N.L. Hydro

New N.L. transmission line completed on time and on budget, but with deadly legacy

A deviation in the procedure for replacing a guy wire caused the tragic transmission tower collapse that killed two workers near Come by Chance, according to an investigation completed by the contractor, and some work on the line has resumed. 

In a statement sent Saturday afternoon, Forbes Bros. said tower work is underway now that Occupational Health and Safety has lifted its stop work order. 

Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro said Forbes, the contractor, determined the cause after a detailed investigation into the incident and a full review of its procedures and oversight of work activities. 

Jared Moffat, 34, of Prince Albert, Sask. and Tim McLean, 31, of Nipigon, Ont. died when a steel transmission tower collapsed on June 19. The men were working with Edmonton-based Forbes on the Bay D'Espoir-western Avalon power transmission line. 

"The direct cause of the incident was a deviation from standard process in the change out of a guy wire," said the statement from Forbes. 

"This action created instability in the tower, resulting in it falling to the ground."

Hydro said Occupational Health and Safety is still investigating, but helicopter-erection of transmission towers resumed late Friday after OHS lifted the stop work order. 

"As tower installation and other work resumes, our priority remains on the safety of all our workers and ensuring that an accident like this never happens again," Hydro said.  

Forbes said it's committed to employee safety as well, and both companies are working with OHS officials on the investigation and "a staged return to work plan," read the statement from Hydro. 

Towers installed are safe: Hydro

An inspection of all previously installed towers on the new transmission line, ordered by OHS, has found those towers are safe.

According to the crown corporation, a third-party audit of installation processes for all guy-supported towers on the line is now complete as well, finding all towers "were designed and erected according to industry best practices."

All work on the transmission line was halted June 19 after the fatal tower collapse, with some employees of Forbes temporarily going home to be with their families.

It's not clear yet why there was a break in the usual procedure for replacing the guy wire – a cable that helps stabilize the free-standing towers – or what exactly that deviation was.