Saturday, July 26, 2008


Stony Mountain Manitoba is a bedroom community just north of Winnipeg. Its only industry is Stony Mountain Penitentiary. The other day, Friday July 25, a 15 year old boy who was working for Interlake Asphalt was killed when he was buried beneath a load of hot asphalt unloaded from a truck working on road repair at the site of an old Manitoba Hydro substation. Manitoba law states that people under the age of 16 cannot be employed at construction sites. Here are a few stories relating to this death. Stay tuned to Mollys Blog for further details as the story develops.


From Live Link .Com

Worker fully buried in hot asphalt:

STONY MOUNTAIN, Manitoba, Canada

A 15-year-old boy, working construction at a Stony Mountain site, died after he was buried in hot asphalt late this morning.

RCMP say the youth was working for a paving company which was doing road repairs at the time. Still early in the investigation, it appears he was helping unload a truck when he was buried beneath a large amount of asphalt.

His name is being withheld at the request of his family.

Officials with Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health are also investigating.

Stony Mountain/Rockwood fire chief Wallace Drysdale said emergency crews arrived at the old Manitoba Hydro substation at 66 Vincent Rd. minutes after being notified of the accident, at around 10:55 a.m.

"There was a young man buried completely up to his hair in hot asphalt," he said.

"Drysdale said a construction company, Interlake Asphalt, had been dumping a trailer full of asphalt into a massive pile to use for various projects around town.

"He'd been standing behind the truck, from what we gather, and the load dumped on him. It knocked him over,” he said of the victim. "You could just see some of his hair sticking out of the asphalt. Some tried to dig by hand too, so they were burning their hands trying to do it."

Drysdale said crews knew the man was dead immediately after arriving, and had to dig to extricate his body.

"In a case like this, when you're buried that deep, whether it's asphalt or not, you’re usually deceased," he said, adding it's impossible to breath with so much pressure.

"It's horrible,” he said. "Especially this guy. He s pretty young.”

Two other workers suffered burns to their hands while trying to dig the man out.

Richard Hill of Stony Mountain said he was in his driveway loading up his truck "when I heard screaming 'Help, help.'"

I ran through the backyard and saw one guy running with a shovel saying 'he's buried.' I looked around for a shovel and ran over and began shovelling."We got down to his hair. It was salt and pepper, but there was just no movement. No movement at all.

"It was so hot my boots were burning because of the asphalt and I burned my hand. It's burning a bit, but it's nothing major.

Two other men were with Hill, including one who phoned 911.

Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health has sent an investigator.

Teen dies in Manitoba after buried in hot asphalt

— A 15-year-old boy died in a horrific construction accident Friday when he was buried under a mountain of searing-hot asphalt.

The boy, too young to work on construction jobs under Manitoba labour laws, was part of a paving crew working on a parking lot in the Winnipeg bedroom community of Stony Mountain.
“I believe [the truck] dumped off way too much asphalt unexpectedly,” said Stony Mountain fire Chief Wallace Drysdale.

“I was one of the first members on scene and we just saw the hair sticking out of this individual. It was extremely hot asphalt. Our crews, when we were digging out, had to shuttle different members in and out in about four- or five-minute intervals because our feet were burning.”

Police and labour officials were investigating.

Richard Hill, who lives less than 100 metres from the accident scene, heard the boy screaming and ran over.

“I guess it was the truck driver that said, ‘There's a guy buried in here' and I ... found a shovel, and me and another guy tried digging him out,” Mr. Hill said.

It took about 15 minutes to get the boy out. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

“We got to the back of his head and there was no movement,” Mr. Hill said. “We pretty much knew there wouldn't be any hope because of the heat and the weight of that [asphalt].
“There's no way a person can breathe with asphalt.”

Manitoba workplace health and safety officials were trying to figure out how the accident occurred and would not comment.

Having teenagers work such jobs is not uncommon, according to Chief Drysdale.

“It's usually a good summer job for them.”

However, Manitoba's Employment Standards Code bars young people under 16 from working on construction sites, as well as other industrial locations where there are drilling rigs and scaffolding. RCMP didn't say whether charges would be laid.

RCMP said they were not releasing the boy's name immediately at the request of his family, but the Winnipeg Free Press identified him as Andrew James.

Katie Coburn, a friend of the boy's older sister, told the Free Press he “was a good kid” who was preparing to enter Grade 10. She said it was the second summer he had worked for Interlake Asphalt Paving(Oh, so he worked for them when he was 14 !!!! Love those labour laws-Molly.)

“He was a normal guy and he was a hard worker,” she said. “He would cut grass and do other jobs around here. He worked throughout the year.”

Brian Yeadon, a family friend, told CTV Winnipeg that the boy had worked since he was seven years old(!!!!!-Molly).

“He was a good kid. The family is all devastated.”

Mr. Yeadon said the owner of the local paving company was also distraught and suffered bad burns in his efforts to extricate the teen.

“It's a fluke accident,” said Mr. Yeadon. “The load – whether it let go, I don't know. But I'm devastated because they were both friends of mine.”

The death has touched everyone in Stony Mountain, Chief Drysdale said.

“Our [fire department] members knew this person, 'cause it's a small town,” he said. “It's very hard.”
And yet another story from the CBC:

Buried in asphalt, 15-year-old Manitoba boy dies:

A 15-year-old Manitoba boy died after being buried in hot asphalt at a workplace in Stony Mountain, Man., on Friday morning.

Andrew James was working for a paving company that was doing repairs near an old Manitoba Hydro substation on Quarry Road, RCMP said.

It appears the boy was helping to unload asphalt from a truck when he somehow was buried under its contents.

"We arrived on scene and there was an individual buried by asphalt. Only his hair was sticking out," said Stony Mountain fire Chief Wallace Drysdale.

"Individuals buried in that much fill or asphalt or anything, he is dead. He's deceased. Because your body cannot survive that."

Drysdale said he believed the truck unexpectedly dumped too much asphalt, overwhelming James in the process.

Two workers on the site suffered burns to their hands trying to dig the boy out, Drysdale said.

Firefighters eventually freed him from the asphalt. The material was so hot, the rescuers' toes were burning inside their boots, Drysdale said.

"There was just tons and tons of material," he said. "It took us about 14 minutes to get him out."

Accident under investigation
Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health and Stonewall RCMP are investigating the accident. Police said they did not know yet if charges would be laid.

People under the age of 16 are allowed to work in Manitoba, but they must have a permit from the provincial employment standards branch.

Employees under the age of 16 are not allowed to work between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. or on construction sites, in industrial or manufacturing processes, drilling or servicing rigs, on scaffolding or doing tree maintenance.

The teen's death is the second construction-related fatality in the past three weeks in the province.

Earlier this month, a 21-year-old man fell under the wheels of a skid steer loader at a home construction site in south Winnipeg.

Thirteen other people have died in workplace accidents so far in 2008, said officials with the province's Workers Compensation Board.

As I said before, Molly will report on this story and comment further later. For now I can say that this is evidence of how little laws can affect the actual practice on work sites, and how much such laws have to reinforced by a good and strong union willing to enforce the "paper" prohibitions against unsafe work practices- including the use of child labour. I would also like to emphasize the number of deaths and injuries that occur at work, a great issue that is often ignored by the mass media until some spectacular event- such as this- occurs. More later...Molly


Anonymous said...

Yes, he worked since he was 7. But no, not doing paving. Doing odd jobs around town, like shoveling snow, cutting grass, he helped the older people take their groceries home. That kind of thing.

Anonymous said...

My 5 yr old loves to work. He helps in the kitchen, helps in the garage, helps in the yard. He washes floors, rakes leaves, pumps up bicycle tires, shovels snow, cuts grass, waters plants, plants seeds, utilizes screwdrivers and hammers, wipes up messes, paints fences, builds robots out of cardboard and styrofoam cups(using a knife!), ... I could go on.
I smile just thinking about how industrious he is. Sure safety can be an issue, but adventure and risk-taking are part of the personality that achieves great things. And as he grows and works, he will contribute so much to his family, his woman, his community, his nation.
This boy, Andrew, must have been that kind of a man. A great loss indeed, for all of us. May God comfort his family and friends.

mollymew said...

Yes, I agree with both of the previous posters. It's a great thing when children are taught the value of work, and it's not just because of any monetary reward. Work is actually a great human value. It connects us to community, and it provides education that may, in the end, be far more valuable than that provided by formal educational institutions. It teaches the value of cooperation in a way that can NEVER be taught in a school situation.sometimes work and its value is taught in the family and sometimes it is taught in the neighbourhood.
What I still think, however, has to be emphasized is that people of a certain age DO NOT belong in certain work situations that are inherantly dangerous. I have no end of sympathy for the family of Andrew beacuse, as I have said elsewhere on this blog, I have also experienced other similar losses. All that being said I think that the FACT that labour laws in this province are NOT being enforced deserves attention- to prevent any such future tragedies.