Arctic Canada Construction fined over Fort Simpson incident

A file photo of the WSCC's downtown Yellowknife office building
A file photo of the WSCC's downtown Yellowknife office building. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio

Arctic Canada Construction must pay $23,000 after admitting a failure to “take all reasonable precautions” at a Fort Simpson worksite.

The company initially faced seven NWT Safety Act charges related to the April 2021 incident, in which a worker was thrown to the ground from the basket of a telehandler – similar to a forklift with a boom.

The remaining charges were withdrawn in territorial court on Friday afternoon. The fine represents a $20,000 penalty plus a $3,000 victim-of-crime surcharge.

An agreed statement of facts set out the circumstances of the incident: the worker, a man with some 40 years’ experience in construction, and a colleague were working to install a steel handrail at the Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ First Nation’s office.



“To save time and effort,” the statement reads, the two decided to lift the handrail through a second-floor window rather than bring it through a boarded-up main door on the ground floor.

According to the statement, a fresh field-level risk assessment for the activity was not completed, “nor did Arctic ensure [employees] prepared a lift plan prior to making the decision to attempt to lift the handrail.”

The employee was wearing an approved safety harness with lanyard, but forgot to attach the lanyard to the telehandler’s basket while raising the handrail to the window, 14 feet above. Outriggers to stabilize the telehandler were not deployed and the handrail was not affixed to the basket.

With the man about 10 feet up, the telehandler’s rear wheels left the ground, the basket came down and the man was thrown out of it, with the handrail landing on his leg.



While he was released from Fort Simpson’s medical clinic “without significant injury other than some soreness and bruising,” the statement reports that the man was off work for approximately three months following the incident.

The statement of facts asserts that the decision to lift the handrail using the telehandler “was a spur-of-the-moment decision which was not properly planned.” What happened was attributed in part to “the failure of Arctic to ensure a competent and trained supervisor was overseeing the lift.”

The Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission issued eight orders to the company, which has “since amended work practice and procedures” and cooperated with WSCC safety officers throughout, the statement concludes.

The fine must be paid by April 24.

Ollie Williams contributed reporting.