A Manitoba-based company that operates in Saskatchewan was fined $400,000 plus a surcharge of $160,000 after an employee was crushed to death at the company’s stockpile site in Eyebrow, Sask.
This is the largest fine the province has seen for a workplace fatality.
“The fine shouldn’t be a mere licensing fee,” said Rayner in his oral decision, adding that the fine needed to be felt by all companies who perform similar work.
“This should be a message to employers out there that it’s important to ensure safe work conditions for their employees, that there is proper safe work procedures in place and that there is adequate supervision for the workers,” said Crown prosecutor Buffy Rodgers, who asked the court to impose a fine of $1.4 million.
The defense argued for a fine of $350,000.
Jesse Hoehn, 25, of Davidson, Sask., died on Feb. 13, 2017, while employed by Langenburg Redi-Mix. At the time of his death, he was working as a front-end loader operator on a stockpile site on Highway 42 in the RM of Eyebrow.
On the day of his death, Hoehn was using a loader to tow trucks that were getting stuck on a sub-base stockpile as it was an unusually warm day for February.
During the last load of the day, Hoehn backed his machine down a ramp about eight feet in front of a fully loaded semi-truck that had spun out. He got out of the loader and went in-between the vehicle and machine, when the loader unexpectedly rolled down and pinned him. He died as a result.
In September, Rayner found Langenburg Redi-Mix guilty of two charges: failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare of its employees; and failing to ensure that all work was supervised.
“The defendant is a large corporation with sophistication who did $36 million worth of work in 2017-2018 for the government of Saskatchewan,” Rayner said.
“Not enough attention was paid to workplace safety. The death could have prevented if there was workplace safety.”
Carol Hoehn said her son complained of safety at the worksite prior to his death.
“He had compared it to other places he had worked and said the safety there was not top-on-mind at all,” said Carol.
Rayner said the company left their shortcomings to employees, “especially the young and new employees.” This was done as a cost-saving measure, said Rayner, adding the site should have been shut down when trucks were spinning out.
Although the Hoehn family were glad there was a guilty verdict, they would have liked to see the company pay a bigger fine.
“It is the highest fine, but it still could have been higher. Not sure the total of $560,000 is a huge deterrent for places that don’t practice safety in the workplace,” said Mike Hoehn, father to Jesse.
The Crown said they will review the decision and decide from there if they’ll appeal the decision. Otherwise, Langenberg Redi-Mix has 90-days to pay.
As for now, the Hoehn family says they can finally move on.
“We need to start remembering who he was, and not how he died,” said Carol.
“Jesse was a wonderful kid. He liked to have fun, be with people, he loved his sports. He was a great kid.”