09 January 2018 0 Comments Posted By : Gordon Hoekstra

Bentall construction tragedy remembered as work-related injuries up in 2016 over previous year

The family comes every year to remember the tragic death of a husband and father — carpenter Donald Davis.

Just 34, he and three other workers fell to their deaths on Jan. 7, 1981, when a platform 36 floors up collapsed during construction of the Bentall Centre Tower IV.

Carpenters Gunther Couvreux, Brian Stevenson and Yrjo Mitrunen also died that day.

“It’s important for us to be here,” said Tracy Davis at an annual memorial in downtown Vancouver on Monday for her dad and the other three workers organized by the B.C. and Yukon Territory Building and Construction Trades Council.

She noted she was just 10 years old when her father died. Her brother, Michael, was 13, her brother John, 12.

“On any workplace a preventable accident can happen. There is still too many of them,” said Davis, who was there with her mom, Carol, and other family members.

Since the deaths of the four workers in 1981, another 1,000 construction workers have died in B.C., an average of 27 deaths a year, according to figures provided by the building-trades council.

Last year, there were 44 work-related construction deaths, a 42-per-cent increase from 2016.

Of the 44 deaths in 2017, 17 were workers who died from trauma on the job, while 27 died from exposure and disease, all but two of those related to asbestos.

Overall, the work-related death rate for traumatic incidents in all industry groups is going down. However, the death rate for exposure and disease is going up.

Among the traumatic deaths in the construction sector in 2017 were several of workers falling from heights, including a young worker who fell about 45 feet inside a building under construction while applying steel, roof-deck material. Other workers fell from ladders and another worker died during a gutter repair job when an aluminum extension ladder contacted overhead electrical conductors.

There were also several vehicle crashes involving construction workers.

Tom Sigurdson, executive director of the building-trades council, noted that one of the recommendations from a 1982 inquiry into the deaths of the four workers at the Bentall tower was for compulsory safety training, yet construction workers continue to sustain an occupational fatality rate that is three times the provincial average for all workers. He said that with the proper emphasis on safety, training and enforcement, all of these 1,000 deaths could have been prevented.

“Every single one of them was a son or a daughter, a mother or a father, or a sister or a brother, or a husband or a wife, and they were taken too soon just because they went to work,” Sigurdson said at the memorial.

“To their memory we commit to do all that we can to make construction work sites safer for all workers,” he told the hundred or so representatives of building-trade unions, the labour movement, WorkSafe B.C., the business community and local leaders gathered for the memorial.

The representatives gather annually with family members to participate in the ceremony near the Bentall towers.

views : 301 | images : 1 | Bookmark and Share

Enter your comment below

Leave a Reply