Supervisor Found Guilty in Worker’s Death

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Supervisor Found Guilty in Worker’s Death

In Saskatchewan, Canada, a SaskPower supervisor was fined $28,000 after being found guilty of Occupational Health & Safety violations.

The accident occurred in Wakaw, Saskatchewan in 2014. Kleon Swahn and his crew were called to repair a line break on a high voltage line. When it was discovered that the available bucket truck did not have an extension long enough to reach the broken line, the job plan had to change.  Mr. Swahn resumed work when he was told to work on a section of the line that had fallen to the ground. A jumper cable, which would have made working on that line safer, was not attached. When Mr. Swahn picked up the line, he was electrically shocked; he was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The judge ruled that an adequate safety plan had NOT been written up once the circumstances of the job changed. The combination of an undocumented tailboard meeting to discuss the job changes and the fact that a jumper cable was not attached to the high voltage line led to the guilty verdict.

SaskPower has placed the supervisor on paid leave. He will remain on leave while the power corporation does an internal review. Since Swahn’s death, the Crown Corporation, parent company of SaskPower, has brought in a safety improvement program, made up of supervisors and union representatives.

“Our goal is zero incidents,” said Brian Ketcheson, vice-president of SaskPower. “If we have one incident, that’s too many.”

Hugh Hoagland

does research and testing of PPE exposed to electrical arcs and is an arc flash expert. Hugh is a Sr. Consultant at ArcWear and Sr. Partner at e-Hazard. Read more about Hugh.

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