The Ontario director of the United Steelworkers (USW) is asking for a review of the health and safety program at National Steel Car.
In a statement this week, Marty Warren tied his request to the deaths of two union workers who died just eight months apart at the facility. Both incidents were confirmed to Global News as workplace fatalities by the ministry of labour.
The first of the incidents was on Sept. 2, 2020, and involved 51-year-old USW member Fraser Cowan. He was pronounced dead at the scene after he was struck by a “large metal item,” according to Hamilton police.
Meanwhile, Collin Grayley, 35, died on April 23, 2021, after he was found unconscious and transported to hospital with vital signs absent, according to the ministry.
“Our condolences and support go out to Fraser’s and Collin’s families,” Warren said in his statement.
“I am deeply concerned. Two fatalities within eight months is cause for alarm.”
Warren says the USW plans to conduct its own investigation and make recommendations.
“When we say an injury to one is an injury to all, we mean it,” added Warren. “The province’s attorney-general must direct law enforcement and Crown prosecutors to do more to ensure justice. Fraser Cowan’s and Collin Grayley’s families deserve no less.”
The ministry says several orders and requirements of the workplace were issued after Grayley’s death through three visits in late April. The agency has not commented further since, as the investigation has not yet been completed.
A GoFundMe campaign for Grayley has now surpassed $15,000 as of May 14. The campaign was set up by friends, family, and members of the United Steelworkers Union Local 7135.
The accident happened the same day the freight maker announced a voluntarily shut down to its manufacturing division in light of a significant COVID-19 outbreak.
The surge involved 40 workers and was declared on April 21, just two days before its closure.
In a message to its team members on May 4, the manufacturer said it was planning to resume operations on Monday, May 17.