Toppled shelves trap, injure 4 workers at northeast Edmonton building supply company

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Toppled shelves trap, injure 4 workers at northeast Edmonton building supply company

Four workers escaped with minor injuries Saturday morning after shelving units stacked with lumber fell and trapped them inside a northeast Edmonton building supply company.

Considering the amount of lumber that fell on the workers, police say the outcome could have been worse.

"Seeing the volume of lumber that fell over, it's amazing that nobody else was injured," Edmonton Police Service Staff Sgt. Randy Wickins said. 

"They're lucky to get away with just the injuries they did have."

The workers suffered minor injuries — mostly scratches, but one person was taken to hospital with an injury to their arm, Wickins said.

Fire officials were called to Windsor Plywood at 52nd Street and 128th Avenue around 10 a.m., when front desk staff heard a commotion and called 911, Edmonton Fire Rescue District Chief Brain Lees said.

Four to five sets of shelving — around two metres wide and six to 10 metres high — holding a "heavy amount" of wood, toppled down in a "domino effect" and trapped four people, Lees said.

Worker Aric Kucey was one of the four people trapped. He managed to free himself and later spoke to reporters outside.

Kucey said staff were doing inventory Saturday morning, counting mouldings and long railings, when he heard something that sounded like a bundle of them falling over.

"That's the first noise I heard. Just started hearing shelves crashing over in a domino effect," Kucey said.

"A shelf fell on me but I was able to kind of push it off and crawl out."

As soon as he got out, he heard two people calling for help. A woman was buried between two shelves and railings, he said. He noticed her when she managed to stick her hand out.

He started digging through the rubble with up to 20 people around him, a situation he described as frantic.

"It was mouldings and railings, so really long pieces anywhere from 10 to 14 feet long and about three inches wide. But there was bundles and bundles and bundles of it, lots of weight," Kucey said.

The woman was freed and taken to hospital as a precaution, Kucey said.

CBC News saw one person on a stretcher being loaded into an ambulance at the business Saturday morning.

Occupational Health and Safety is now investigating the incident.

Shirley Lin, public affairs officer with Alberta Labour, confirmed three of the workers suffered minor injuries. The fourth was taken to hospital and released.

"No customers were injured in the incident and OHS officers are at the scene," she added.

Lin could not confirm the ages or genders of the injured workers. 

Kucey said the shelves were not bolted down.

​"There's a lot of weight up in the air, 14 feet up, and then someone was up on a ladder up at the very top. They tipped the first shelf over, and just shelf after shelf after that came crashing down," he said.

"It all happened so quick."