Coroner’s inquest set for worker electrocuted on worksite in 2012

Barry Robertson, 31, was electrocuted on March 22, 2012, when his boom truck contacted overhead high-voltage wires.

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Staff Reporter

Photo of Barry Robertson, who died from injuries in an electrical accident on March 22 along Moodie Drive.   Courtesy family
Photo of Barry Robertson, who died from injuries in an electrical accident on March 22 along Moodie Drive. Courtesy family

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A coroner’s inquest has been called to examine the 2012 worksite death of a 31-year-old Ottawa man.

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Barry Robertson, 31, was electrocuted on March 22, 2012, when his boom truck contacted overhead high-voltage wires while he and two other workers were installing new hydro poles along Moodie Drive near Fallowfield Road.

The two other workers were not seriously injured and gave Robertson cardiopulmonary resuscitation, but he died four days later in hospital.

Digsafe, an Ottawa excavation service company, pleaded guilty in 2013 to failing as an employer to make sure that a truck boom didn’t come within three metres of the energized power line as required under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Digsafe had been subcontracted by Greely Construction Ltd., which, in turn, had been contracted by Hydro Ottawa for the job.

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Justice of the Peace John Balkwill fined Digsafe $125,000, plus a 25-per-cent victim surcharge, for violating provincial health and safety legislation.

In 2016, Hydro Ottawa was fined a total of $225,000 for its role in the deadly job-site accident.

The utility was found guilty in provincial court of:

• Failing to ensure the boom didn’t come within three metres of energized overhead wires;

• Failing to post a signaller to warn the operator when the boom came close to the wires;

• Failing to take reasonable precautions to safeguard workers from energized electrical equipment.

Robertson had a child and step-child with his common-law partner.

The Hydro Ottawa fine, imposed by justice of the peace Brian Mackey, came in addition to a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge.

Ontario’s Office of the Chief Coroner said the inquest would begin Oct. 6 and would examine all issues surrounding Robertson’s death so that a jury could make recommendations aimed at preventing future similar deaths.

The inquiry, presided by Dr. Bob Reddoch, will be conducted via videoconference and is expected to hear from 10 witnesses.

It is expected to last three days.

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