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Olympic road contractor fined in blaster’s death

WorkSafeBC slaps Murrin Construction with a $216,000 fine



Murrin Construction, the company awarded the multi-million dollar contract to build the road into the Olympic Nordic venue, has been fined by WorkSafeBC.

The $216,000 fine, the third largest ever levied by WorkSafeBC, was imposed after an investigation into the death of 45-year-old rock blaster Gary Michael Greer.

Greer was killed more than a year ago while crews were preparing to blast rock along the Callaghan Creek road, roughly halfway between the Olympic venue and Highway 99.

According to the WorkSafeBC report, Greer had forgotten to bring his blasting equipment to work that day, June 12, 2006, and decided to use first a six-volt flashlight battery and then a truck battery to fire the blast. All attempts were unsuccessful.

After the road foreman came down to the firing position to help out, Greer moved to the blasting site.

The explosives detonated while Greer was standing in the blasting site.

The WorkSafeBC report states:

“Industry and regulatory safe work practices were not being followed before and during this incident. The firm’s own safety policies were not being enforced or followed.”

The report, which was released under a Freedom of Information request, also revealed Greer had a “possible impairment.”

Those sections that deal with impairment in the report have been blanked out under terms of the Privacy Act.

Murrin Construction said last week it would defend itself against the charges.

In 2005 the Ministry of Transportation awarded Murrin the $11.9 million contract to build a four-lane 10 kilometre paved road into the Whistler Nordic Centre in the Callaghan Valley.

The contract contains a compliance with time schedule section, which imposes a $3,500 a day penalty against Murrin Construction if the project does not meet the completion date of Nov. 20, 2007. The ministry project manager stated in the report that the project was not behind schedule.


Coroner’s office rules snowmobile deaths an accident


The deaths of two young Australians, killed more than a year ago on Whistler Mountain when they were thrown from their snowmobile, have been ruled as accidental.

“They truly had an accident,” said Jan MacFayden, the coroner who investigated the accident.

After more than a year, the B.C. Coroners Service released its report into the deaths of Joshua Bradford, 24, and Benjamin Kontor, 23.

The report shows both men were thrown from a snowmobile as they made their way to the Emerald Chair in June 2006. They were on the mountain working, doing spring clean-up.

The engineers from WorkSafeBC calculated the speed of the snowmobile was 36 to 42 kilometres per hour. That’s above the maximum speed on the mountain of 30 km/h.

“However, in spring snow which was very soft and slippery, the maximum speed should have been 20 km/h,” the report states.

Both men were wearing helmets and the snowmobile was found to be mechanically sound.

WorkSafeBC reported that all work orders presented to Intrawest Corporation were complied with.