A tragic incident in Calgary has sparked a call for workplace safety reform as workers mourn the loss of a colleague who died in a trench collapse. Liam Johnston, a 27-year-old plumber, lost his life while working on a project for Mr. Mike’s Plumbing. The devastating incident has prompted discussions about the importance of implementing stricter safety regulations and enforcement measures. As family, friends, and industry professionals demand answers, it is clear that urgent action is needed to prevent future tragedies and ensure the well-being of workers.
The Trench Collapse
Emergency crews were dispatched to the scene on 34th Avenue N.W., in the Charleswood community, after receiving reports of a trench collapse. Tragically, Liam Johnston was pronounced dead at the scene. It was revealed that there was no trench box initially in place, requiring crews to install one before entering the trench safely. The incident has raised questions about the safety protocols in place and the responsibility of employers to provide a secure working environment.
Calls for Safety Reform
Jon Malley, a former apprentice plumber who had worked alongside Liam, expressed his concerns about the lack of safety measures. Malley had previously raised the issue with Mr. Mike’s management, emphasizing the potential dangers and the urgent need for a trench box. The tragedy has fueled demands for enhanced safety regulations, certified training courses, and stricter enforcement to protect workers in hazardous environments.
The Company’s Response
According to MSN News, In response to the incident, Mr. Mike’s Plumbing released a statement affirming its commitment to safety as the highest priority. The company pledged to cooperate fully with authorities to investigate the circumstances surrounding the tragedy and implement appropriate measures to prevent similar incidents in the future. However, the company later announced that it would not provide further comments or interviews on the incident and the allegations made by former employees.
The Role of Occupational Health and Safety
Pete Archdekin, owner of Pete The Plumber, highlighted the significance of Alberta’s occupational health and safety manual in protecting workers in confined spaces. Archdekin emphasized the importance of following proper excavation and safety procedures, including the use of trench boxes and certified courses. He stressed that incidents like trench collapses are rare and often preventable if regulations are strictly adhered to.
Enforcement and Accountability
Rob Stewart, a safety scientist, pointed out the need for stricter enforcement of safety regulations and consequences for non-compliance. He expressed concern that many employers fail to follow basic safety protocols, with approximately 50% of employers in Alberta neglecting these regulations.
Stewart called for stronger deterrents, including stricter fines and punishments, to change company behaviors and create a safer working environment. He also emphasized the importance of addressing the issue at a broader North American level, as trench-related accidents occur annually across the continent.