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Ice Bridge Worker Dies in Fall

Thursday, September 17, 2015

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A platform situated underneath a bridge in Montreal gave way Tuesday afternoon (Sept. 15), dropping one worker into the water below.

The 44-year-old construction worker was missing for several hours before his body was recovered from the St. Lawrence River later that evening.

On Wednesday (Sept. 16) he was identified as Dany Cleroux of Ste-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, according to the Montreal Gazette.

Platform Collapse

According to CTV News Montreal, the victim was a subcontractor through a company called Groupe TNT, which supplies general contracting to municipal public infrastructure and transportation construction projects.

Cleroux was at work reinforcing the deck on a structure known as the Champlain “ice bridge” when something happened to the scaffolding supporting the bridge platform he was working from and he fell into the river. The accident occurred at about 12:20 p.m.

In the CBC News coverage, the site indicated that the scaffolding had unhooked from the bridge, leading to the collapse.

CTV News reported that the CSST, the Occupation Safety and Health Commission, said he was alone on the platform as it was being moved and it snapped apart.

After the fall, Cleroux was missing for several hours as search and rescue teams patrolled the river in an effort to find him. The search by a firefighter water rescue crew, the Coast Guard and the Sûreté du Québec first stayed close to the bridge and then moved downstream, reports said.

It was unclear Wednesday how far Cleroux fell.

His body was located by divers at 6:30 p.m.

Safety Precautions Appear Absent

The CSST is still investigating the events that led to the accident and told CTV News that it was looking into why the scaffolding came apart, as well as whether the worker was wearing a harness or lifejacket.

CSST spokesperson Maxime Boucher told the Montreal Gazette that the use of these types of work platforms will not be permitted until after the investigations.

A fellow construction worker on the site, Jean-François Séguin, told the CBC after the accident that they aren’t required to wear safety harnesses on the platforms under the bridge, nor are life jackets mandatory. Rather, he said, they rely on the guardrails for protection.

CSST inspector Julie Casaubon, however, indicated that a harness should have been in use as the guardrails were down because the platform was being moved.

In a statement published by the Global News, the Jacque Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated (JCCBI), the federal corporation that manages the bridges and reports to Infrastructure Canada, indicated it would “closely examine the investigation conclusions to enhance, if need be, the requirements currently included in its contracts.”

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre issued a statement on the accident, which was published by the Gazette: “Even though it appears to be a workplace accident, we will let the proper authorities determine the causes and circumstances of the death. For now, it’s time for contemplation and I offer to the family and friends of the victim my sympathies.”

Champlain Ice Bridge

The 50-year-old ice bridge sits about 300 meters (about 1,000 feet) upstream from the Champlain Bridge and was built in order to break up ice jams in the spring.

The ice bridge has been closed to vehicular traffic since July so that workers could reinforce the bridge deck, but the pedestrian and cycle path and related shuttle service were still open and accessible prior to the accident. 

In its coverage, the Montreal Gazette indicated that the span was also being used by trucks travelling to work sites related to maintenance on the Champlain Bridge and its replacement, which has been in progress since April.

Boucher told the Gazette this was the first major accident on the site of the new Champlain Bridge.

The ice bridge is slated to reopen Wednesday (Sept. 23), with resumption of the shuttle service for pedestrians and cyclists.

However, work at that construction site will be suspended until further notice.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Asia Pacific; Bridges; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Fall protection; Health & Safety; Health and safety; Latin America; North America; Scaffolding

Comment from Car F., (9/17/2015, 11:34 AM)

Handrails are considered the highest level of fall prevention/protection, but once they are removed, workers are required to have fall arrest and life jackets, when working above water. This should have been part of the site specific fall protection plan.

Comment from Chuck Pease, (9/20/2015, 10:43 AM)

Yes sir.

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