Irving Shipbuilding, Inc. was set to go to trial over the serious injuries caused to a worker in a Halifax, Nova Scotia shipyard in 2014, but pleaded out and now is facing fines and penalties over the incident. Irving admitted to being guilty of failing to take all reasonable precautions to ensure the health and safety of workers in the shipyard.
The incident occurred in the Irving-owned Halifax shipyard on January 3, 2014. A worker was sitting in his truck in the shipyard when a piece of snapped cable swung toward the truck and struck him in the head. The worker suffered a fractured skull and resulting brain damage. The cable was being used to tow a ship when it broke and swung out of control.
An investigation of the accident found that excess strain had been placed on the cable when it snapped. The company could not provide the investigative team with documentation for maintenance and inspection of the materials and equipment involved. Furthermore, the operator of the winch that day told the investigators that it was his first time doing the job and that he had not been trained. Witnesses to the incident also reported that the clips on the cable had not been properly tightened with a torque wrench.
Irving Charged on Four Counts
The results of the investigation pointed toward negligence on the part of Irving. Several factors in the incident seemed to show that the accident and severe injury could and should have been prevented. As a result, Irving was charged on four counts for violating the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Irving was charged with failing to make sure that a machine that could be hazardous was being maintained, inspected, and operated according to specifications.
Irving was also charged with failing to ensure that maximums and limitations in operating the machinery were not exceeded and with failing to ensure the operator of the machinery was competent and trained to use it correctly and safely. Finally, Irving was charged with failing to take all precautions that would ensure the safety and health of people in the workplace.
Irving Pleads out
Irving was set to go to trial on the charges in October of 2016 but pleaded out and admitted guilt in one of the charges before the trial could begin. The judge accepted the plea, dismissed the other three charges, and ordered Irving to pay a $10,000 along with a $40,000 donation to a public education trust fund. The injured worker was able to return to full time work seven months after the accident, but his duties were modified because of his injury.
This case exemplifies the risks and dangers for workers in the maritime industry. Even those shipyard and port workers simply on the premises are vulnerable to injury and even death. This accident could easily have been fatal if the angle or force had been different. When workers are injured in the maritime industry, they have rights. Workers’ compensation and lawsuits are options workers have to seek compensation for medical bills, lost earnings, and pain and suffering.