WOODSTOCK (GNB) – Recommendations have been made to improve the safety of people working around water on construction sites. The recommendations follow a coroner’s inquest in Woodstock.

A mandatory inquest into the death of James Baker was held March 19-20 in Woodstock. Baker died on Oct. 27, 2014, from injuries sustained during his employment at a pit in Caraquet. An inquest is a formal court proceeding that allows for public presentation of all evidence relating to a death.

The five-person jury selected from the community made the following recommendations:

  • There should be dedicated supervision at any site that is separated from another by one kilometre or more. This should be a foreman or a safety co-ordinator.
  • WorkSafeNB should oversee the startup of any road construction sites, gravel pits and quarries. An inspection of all employee safety and training records for compliance should be performed every two months.

Presiding coroner Gregory Forestell added the following recommendations:

  • WorkSafeNB should consider changes to the regulations concerning working near water to require the daily posting of water depths in a prominent location on the site.
  • WorkSafeNB should consider changes to regulations in order to require a joint health and safety committee regardless of the number of employees where there are two or more employers working on a construction site.

The Office of the Chief Coroner will forward these recommendations to the appropriate government departments and agencies for consideration and response. The responses will be included in the chief coroner’s annual report for 2018.

The inquest was held pursuant to Section 7(b) of the Coroners Act, which states the Office of the Coroner shall hold an inquest when a worker dies as a result of an accident occurring in the course of his or her employment at or in a woodland operation, sawmill, lumber processing plant, food processing plant, fish processing plant, construction project site, mining plant or mine, including a pit or quarry.