Contract worker crushed to death by giant truck

The 40-year-old contractor killed on an oilsands site Tuesday was crushed by a giant dump truck.

"He was run over by the heavy hauler truck," Workplace Health and Safety spokesman Barrie Harrison said, updating the progress of the investigation on Wednesday.

The contractor worked for Finning Canada at Suncor's Millennium Mine site, about 25 kilometres north of Fort McMurray. The accident happened shortly before 11:45 a.m. while employees were trying to move a broken-down truck. Two other employees were injured. One was treated on site and the other was taken to a hospital in Fort McMurray and released.

The man's name and hometown have not been released, but RCMP say he was not a temporary foreign worker.

Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said he has been told the man was a third-year apprentice machinist and member of the International Association of Machinists.

Tuesday's accident is at least the third serious accident involving a giant oilsands mine truck in just over three months. Christopher Van Moorsel, 26, died April 26 after his small pickup was run over by one of the massive trucks. Police told his family the driver just didn't see him, said future brother-in-law David Charlton.

Then on May 24, a 46-year-old man was forced to jump out of the cab through a wall of flames when his truck caught fire.

He suffered second- and third-degree burns and had to be airlifted to a hospital in Edmonton.

Oilsands trucks are the largest in the world. The Caterpillar 797B stands more than three storeys high and has a hauling capacity of 400 tons.

McGowan said historically the oilsands have been one of the safest areas of the sector. A spokesman for Suncor said the company has only had one incident in the past two years in which an employee or contractor had to take time off work due to an injury.

"But these two fatalities raise red flags," McGowan said.

He is worried the pace of development in the sector endangers workers' lives.

"We're concerned that people are being rushed and that in some cases they're being thrown onto work sites without the proper training."

Edmonton Journal, Page B8, Thurs July 10 2008
Byline: Elise Stolte

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