Charges filed in workplace death of excavator operator near Fort Simpson, N.W.T.

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Claude Fontaine drowned last December when an excavator he was operating slid into a water-filled gravel pit when its sidewall collapsed. (Submitted by Andre Fontaine - image credit)
Claude Fontaine drowned last December when an excavator he was operating slid into a water-filled gravel pit when its sidewall collapsed. (Submitted by Andre Fontaine - image credit)

The Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission (WSCC) filed nine charges in N.W.T. Territorial Court in connection with the death of an excavator operator near Fort Simpson last December.

Nogha Enterprises and the general foreman are charged with multiple offences that violate the N.W.T. Safety Act and Occupational and Safety Regulations.

The charges are a result of the death of Claude Fontaine, 58, a longtime resident of Fort Simpson, N.W.T.

On Dec. 8, 2020, he was operating an excavator, digging a pit at a gravel quarry 44 kilometres outside Fort Simpson.

"The sidewall of the water-filled gravel pit collapsed and the excavator slid into the pit and the worker drowned," according to a news release from the WSCC.

The charges were for failing to implement and maintain an occupational health and safety program, failing to ensure proper safety training and failing to ensure only competent workers operate machinery.

As well, the charges were for failing to ensure work is competently supervised and failing to establish an effective communications system for workers at a remote work site.

The WSCC said the first court appearance in the case is set for March 16, 2022, in Fort Simpson.

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