By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
The Town of Picture Butte has been convicted of an Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) violation, and are facing $87,000 in fines as a result of the conviction.
The incident, categorized as a serious incident involved a junior lifeguard who sustained serious injuries on their first day on the job. According to the official OHS investigation, and conviction overview, the lifeguard fell nearly 10 feet, (3 metres) into the deep end of an empty pool on their first day on the job.
The incident occurred on July 16, 2020, and was reported to OHS after serious injuries were sustained by the junior lifeguard. According to the OHS conviction, the new employee fell into the deep end of a then-empty pool at the Cor Van Raay Community and Recreation Centre in the Town of Picture Butte which was in the final stages of preparation before its grand opening to the public on July 31, 2020.
The Town of Picture Butte pled guilty to violating Section 139(1)(a) of the OHS Code during the proceedings. The decision, which was passed down on Sept. 6, 2022, revealed the Town of Picture Butte failed to, “ensure that a worker was protected from falling at a temporary or permanent work area,” which may result in a vertical fall 3 metres or higher.
Subsequently, the Town has been asked to pay $30,000 in favour of the Alberta Municipal Health and Safety Association (AMHSA) to fund an aquatic safety awareness campaign, in an effort to mitigate future incidents. According to the conviction notice, the Town has also been asked to pay an additional $57,000 to STARS air ambulance.
CAO for the Town of Picture Butte, Keith Davis said, “Obviously, we do not plan for these circumstances and endeavour to avoid them. Davis However, operational reserves are for unanticipated events. We did not budget for a fine amount in previous budgets to cover this cost,” but added operational surpluses are saved, “for unplanned events that occur throughout any given year.”
All other charges were withdrawn. The incident resulted in one of just eight convictions made by OHS in Alberta so far in 2022.
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