Teen’s workplace death was preventable: workers union

A union representing steelworkers across North America says it feels grateful with the verdict reached in a trial against a workplace supervisor whose criminal negligence caused the death of an 18-year-old worker.

Michael Henderson died in August 2018 while working with Springhill Construction at Fredericton’s sewage treatment plant. While Henderson worked inside a four-foot-wide utility hole, a plug slid out and water rushed in.

The judge found Jason King, a supervisor at the site, guilty of criminal negligence after failing to read Springhill’s safety manuals or the manual setting out his duties and responsibilities as a supervisor.

Myles Sullivan, of the United Steelworkers Union (USW), the largest private-sector union in North America representing more than 225,000 members, said Henderson’s death was preventable.

“There is a reason we have laws and regulations in our workplaces – it is so workers are kept safe and go home in one piece after each shift,” he said in a statement.

“I hope this verdict sends a message to employers that there is indeed a price to pay for neglecting to keep workers healthy and safe.”

Meanwhile, Daniel Légère, president of the New Brunswick Federation of Labour, expressed condolences to Henderson’s family and friends on behalf of his organization, which will continue to work with the Steelworkers union to prevent similar deaths.

“Together, we will continue fighting to make sure workers across New Brunswick are safe and healthy at work,” he said.

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