The Saskatchewan occupational health and safety office has put a hold on most road boring work undertaken by the Ministry of Highways after a worker was killed late last month, according to the Journal of Commerce.
A 35-year old Alberta man was killed while performing road maintenance on Highway 16.
At the time, he was working with heavy equipment near the community of Maymont, about 90 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon.
“What I can confirm is that the deceased worker at the time of the event was working with a large piece of machinery that is used to install culverts,” said Glennis Bihun, Saskatchewan Occupational Health and Safety executive director.
“In our follow up with the employer and the Ministry of Highways, we have decided to put a hold on all similar activities or work that is related to the specific activity of culvert boring.”
The worker was drilling a culvert under the eastbound lanes of the highway, when the machinery failed. He lost control of the equipment and it collapsed on him.
“This particular equipment does horizontal drilling and earth boring for the simultaneous installation of culverts,” said Bihun.
The Inline Contracting employee was transported to hospital in North Battleford.
He was pronounced dead shortly after the incident.
Inline Contracting Ltd. is an Edmonton road boring company that is under contract with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways.
Kirsten Leatherdale, communications director with the ministry said Inline was installing a new culvert next to an old one.
She said horizontal directional drilling allows the contractor to drill holes underneath the highway lanes, without damaging or closing the roadway.
“We do less than half a dozen of these jobs a year because it is more expensive than a conventional culvert, which uses an open trenching method,” said Leatherdale.
“This is not a common method for culvert construction.”
The compliance order from the occupational health and safety office means that work must stop for all companies installing a culvert for the ministry, until the agency can ensure the work is being done in full compliance with safety standards.
“This is not about stopping road construction, it is about ceasing activity relating to culvert boring, explained Bihun.
“The hold applies to this specific employer and when the Ministry of Highways has contracts with other employers to perform that specific type of work.”
The hold only applies to the government work and Inline Contracting. It doesn’t apply to culvert work on private properties.