Saskatchewan court rules employer responsible for worker’s death

·3 min read

Warning: Readers may find some details disturbing

BLS Asphalt was responsible for the death of one of its employees, a Saskatchewan court ruled last week.

On Nov. 22, 2017, while 33-year-old Troy Lucyk was working at the company’s gravel pit in Ceylon, Sask., he became entangled in the tail pulley of a conveyor system and was crushed to death.

After an investigation by Occupational Health and Safety from the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, BLS Asphalt was charged with three criminal offences.

“The Court finds that although BLS provided information on safety on the crusher site, it did not provide information, instruction, training or supervision on the clearing of the chute that led to Mr. Lucyk becoming entangled in the tail pulley,” ruled Justice Michelle R. Brass on March 30 in Weyburn Provincial Court.

BLS Asphalt was also found guilty on the charge that they failed to provide an effective safeguard where a worker may contact a dangerous moving part of the tail pulley. This failure resulted in the death of Lucyk.

Justice Brass, however, found BLS Asphalt not guilty on the charge of failing where reasonably practicable, to ensure that stopping devices on a machine are located in the direct view and within easy reach of the operator and readily identifiable as required.

The court heard that at about 10:30 a.m. on Nov. 22, 2017, the RCMP were called to a complaint of a deceased man in a gravel pit near Ceylon. The man was later identified as Lucyk.

RCMP Const. Lyndon Lanoie told the court that when he arrived he saw that Lucyk’s right leg had been caught up on what he described as a drum rotor or a drive system of a conveyor belt, which was later identified as a tail pulley.

Const. Lanoie said Lucyk’s leg had been pulled in all the way up to his hip and his leg appeared to be dislocated from the hip socket. His leg became wrapped around the mechanism.

Const. Lanoie said the tower operator was in shock.

The court heard that Lucyk had worked for BLS Asphalt for about six months and the operation ran 24 hours with two 12-hour shifts. The Ceylon crusher gravel pit was set up for production just two weeks before the incident.

Two co-workers testified that Lucyk wasn’t impaired the morning of the incident.

“I was more than halfway done and I hear a yelp or a gasp behind me,” testified co-worker Mike Johnston. “So I looked over my shoulder and seen a pair of knuckles and a shovel hanging on to the hopper. And so I leaned over and looked, I seen Troy hanging on the 2021 hopper with his leg in the tail pulley.”

Co-worker Brian Holmgren testified that, “Mike probably held him up for 45 minutes, but it was already too late by then. He couldn’t hold him up, and he had a broken ankle from jumping off the conveyor.”

Lucyk was a diabetic but Dr. Andreea Nister, who performed the autopsy, said Lucyk’s glucose was within the expected range for a person with diabetes.

Dr. Nister said Lucyk’s cause of death was exsanguination, meaning excessive blood loss because the equipment amputated his leg.

The court also heard testimony from Dr. Steven Richardson who said, in his opinion, on the morning of Nov. 22, 2017, Lucyk’s brain function wasn’t impaired by any compounds found in his autopsy vitreous humour, femoral blood, liver or urine sample.

An obituary for Lucyk said he left behind a daughter. Lucyk enjoyed listening to and playing music. He liked to BMX, sled, snowboard, and ride his Harley.

BLS Asphalt will be sentenced in May in Weyburn Provincial Court.

ljoy@glaciermedia.ca

Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist