Vale Canada Ltd. was fined $1 million plus court costs and a 25 per cent victim surcharge Monday after pleading guilty to four charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act in the death of Paul Rochette.
The 36-year-old millwright was killed on the job April 6, 2014, while trying to remove the head of a moil or large steel pin that was stuck in the jaws of a machine called a Farrell crusher on a conveyor belt in the smelter complex.
The millwright with whom Rochette was working, Justin Stewart, suffered critical injuries when the head of the moil let go. Vale supervisor Greg Taylor, acting as a worker that day, pleaded guilty to one count of working in a manner that could endanger himself or another worker. He was fined $3,000 plus court costs and the victim surcharge.
Both Vale and Taylor were given four months to pay their fines. The plea deals were not what Rochette’s family was hoping for in the Ontario Court of Justice. It wanted a trial so details of the incident, how it occurred and what was done about it afterward, would be heard in a public court.
The Ministry of Labour laid nine charges against Vale and eight against three supervisors in 2015 after its year-long investigation into Rochette’s death.
All but the five charges for which Vale and Taylor pleaded guilty were withdrawn, including those against two other supervisors, Eric Labelle and Glenn Munro.
Stuart Harshaw, vice-president of Vale’s Ontario operations, pleaded guilty to each of four charges as it was read in court.
Judge Patrick Boucher, of the Ontario Court of Justice, levied the fines after a gut-wrenching afternoon of long delays, guilty pleas and victim impact statements.
Vale was fined $425,000 each on two charges. One was for failing to ensure that, while work was being done on the Farrell crusher, any gravity-stored energy was dissipated or contained.
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