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Westman firm faces 12 charges after fatal accident

A Carberry-area business faces a dozen charges under the Workplace Safety and Health Act for circumstances surrounding the death of 22-year-old Dale Jerome more than two years ago.

Cobalt Industries Ltd. (known as Fusion Design and Fabrication Ltd. at the time of the tragedy) faces 12 charges under the act.

While the charges against the company haven’t been proven in court, Jerome’s father-in-law says he hopes such investigations lead to greater workplace safety in general.

"I lost my son-in-law … I was there when the RCMP told my daughter what had happened," Jean Lessard said. "I don’t want to see any parent go through that."

A man described in court documents as a director for Cobalt Industries wasn’t available for comment on Friday.

Company founder Dale Gabler is retired and said he’s not at liberty to comment on the charges or the incident.

However, Gabler stood by the safety record for the company which provides custom welding and fabrication services at two sites, near Carberry and at Portage la Prairie, and employs 24 people.

Gabler said there have been no other workplace deaths or serious injuries in the company’s 42-year history.

"We have a very good safety record and we have a good safety program … We’ve never even had much of any kind of an accident," Gabler said.

Jerome was killed at the company’s metal fabrication shop in the RM of North Cypress near Carberry on May 23, 2012.

Shortly after the accident, investigators determined that Jerome, a Fusion Design and Fabrication Ltd. employee, was lifting a steel catwalk panel with a hoist when a hook broke and the catwalk — which weighed an estimated 1,100 pounds — fell on him.

The catwalk was being made for a grain elevator, police said shortly after the accident.

The Workplace Safety and Health Division of Manitoba Family Services and Labour investigated, and in such cases the findings may be sent to Manitoba Justice to consider whether charges are warranted under the Workplace Safety and Health Act.

The company, now known as Cobalt Industries Ltd., faces numerous charges under the act.

Among the allegations — the company failed to ensure Jerome, who was operating the hand chain hoist, was protected from the falling catwalk panel.

The company is also accused of failing to provide workers with a hand chain hoist that was safe, and of failing to provide workers with adequate training and supervision while the hoist was used to build the catwalk.

The charges also accuse the company of certain failures surrounding the chain hoist itself, and rigging — specifically with regards to repairs or modifications made to the hoist, the lack of a maintenance and inspection schedule for the hoist in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications, and a failure to ensure the weight of the load didn’t exceed the load rating of the hoist’s hook.

A director for Cobalt Industries Ltd. has been given a summons to appear in Brandon court on July 10.

Jerome was a journeyman welder who took his apprenticeship through Assiniboine Community College and worked at the company for about 15 months prior to the accident, Lessard said.

He was wed in December 2011 and lived in Carberry with his wife, who was eight months pregnant at the time of his death. Their daughter was born in July 2012.

» ihitchen@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @IanHitchen

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 7, 2014

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A Carberry-area business faces a dozen charges under the Workplace Safety and Health Act for circumstances surrounding the death of 22-year-old Dale Jerome more than two years ago.

Cobalt Industries Ltd. (known as Fusion Design and Fabrication Ltd. at the time of the tragedy) faces 12 charges under the act.

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A Carberry-area business faces a dozen charges under the Workplace Safety and Health Act for circumstances surrounding the death of 22-year-old Dale Jerome more than two years ago.

Cobalt Industries Ltd. (known as Fusion Design and Fabrication Ltd. at the time of the tragedy) faces 12 charges under the act.

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