Vancouver Island woman pleads for workplace safety changes after fatal accident

Click to play video: 'Workplace accident sparks calls for new safety measures'
Workplace accident sparks calls for new safety measures
WATCH: A Vancouver Island woman who recently lost her boyfriend in a workplace accident is calling for mandatory tethers on construction workers, and for sites to be closed during extreme weather. Neetu Garcha explains what happened, and why she's worried her message will fall on deaf ears – Jan 18, 2017

The girlfriend of a construction worker killed in a tragic workplace accident in Saanich, B.C. is advocating for changes to workplace safety rules that she hopes will save lives.

“They should have shut the site down. That’s my biggest concern,” said Corinne Desjarlais, the girlfriend of Roland Huetzelmann, a 51-year-old man who died after falling from the third floor of an under-construction condo building on Jan. 10.

“I know they have deadlines but somebody’s dead because of those deadlines, because of the pressure,” Desjarlais alleged. “And that’s my biggest beef.”

Desjarlais is pushing for mandatory tethers for all workers and site closures during extreme weather.

Huetzelmann was killed after a piece of plywood lifted by a strong gust of wind slammed into him. The impact pushed him over a railing.

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“He was screaming for help and landed on the concrete, had severe head trauma… He had a broken shoulder, multiple [broken] ribs. His pelvis was shattered. His spine was shattered,” Desjarlais said.

The B.C. Coroners Service said Huetzelmann died in hospital Sunday.

Huetzelmann’s employer, Cedar Grove Framing Corp., declined to comment.

A spokesperson for Sargent Construction, the company contracted for the project, told Global News it was a freak accident.

The gust that led to Huetzelmann’s death came out of nowhere, the spokesperson said, noting the company has previously shut down its site during extreme weather conditions.

Environment Canada says winds were gusting about 30 kilometres per hour in the region at the time of the fall.

While safety measures were in place, including a guard rail, that’s not enough for Desjarlais.

“I’m not here to place blame on anybody because everybody’s devastated, but, hopefully for Rolly, we can get something changed,” she said.

A WorkSafeBC investigation into his death is now underway.

WorkSafe BC received nine claims for work-related deaths in B.C. involving falls from elevation in the construction industry in 2015.


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