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Journeyman lineman dies after 85-foot fall from bucket

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WorkSafeBC officers are investigating an incident at the Northwest Transmission Line (NTL) project near Terrace, B.C., in which a journeyman lineman was killed while working on the construction of a transmission tower.

WorkSafeBC officers are investigating an incident at the Northwest Transmission Line (NTL) project near Terrace, B.C., in which a journeyman lineman was killed while working on the construction of a transmission tower.

“It looks like there was a 22-tonne mobile crane with two workers in a man bucket suspended from the crane about 85 feet above the ground,” said WorkSafeBC spokesperson Ally Skinner-Reynolds.

“The boom shook and the man bucket swung around and hit the boom. When it hit, the worker was thrown to the ground.”

The incident happened at a site about 50 kilometres north of Terrace on March 15.

The employer is Edmonton-based McGregor Construction Ltd.

“I am very saddened by the passing of this employee,” said Greg Reimer, executive vice-president of transmission and distribution with BC Hydro.

“On behalf of everyone at BC Hydro, I offer my sincerest condolences to the employee’s family and co-workers.”

McGregor is a subcontractor to the team of Valard Construction and Burns & McDonald, which were awarded the design-build contract for the NTL project by BC Hydro in September 2011.

The NTL project involves the construction of a new 287-kilovolt transmission line.

The line will extend 344-kilometres from the existing Skeena substation south of Terrace to Meziadin Junction and north to a new substation near Bob Quinn Lake.

Crews are currently in the final push to complete the construction of the transmission line by May 2014.

Skinner-Reynolds said WorkSafeBC put a stop work order on the site.

“They were putting conductors in place on the tower and there seems to have been a problem with communication,” she said.

“It looks like they were signaling to bring them down.”

A WorkSafeBC engineer and other investigators will check the crane, the bucket lift, fall protection equipment, processes and procedures, and human factors.

“BC Hydro will work with the contractor to co-operate fully with the investigation by WorkSafeBC and we will continue to offer any other support and assistance we can to the contractor and their employees,” said Reimer.

“Although there was no immediate danger to any other crews on-site, construction on the line was stopped immediately out of respect for the employee.”

The NTL is the longest new transmission addition in BC Hydro’s capital plan.

The project also includes new access roads, an upgrade to the existing Skeena substation and construction of the new Bob Quinn substation.

Valard is leading the project, along with Burns & McDonnell, which is an international engineering, architecture and consulting firm based in Kansas City, Missouri.

Burns & McDonnell engineered the line, and Valard is handling the construction, which began in January 2012.

The three-year construction phase is expected to generate an average of 860 person-years of full-time direct employment.

The NTL was budgeted by Hydro at $395 million in 2009, but since then the costs have escalated significantly.

In May, the Hydro board of directors approved a revised budget of $746 million, which is almost 90 per cent above the initial cost.

The Mining Association of B.C. produced a report in 2008 that estimated the NTL has the potential to attract more than $15 billion in mining investment alone, creating up to 10,000 jobs and generating $300 million in annual tax revenues.

by Richard Gilbert

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