A step toward justice has been taken in the death of 24-year-old construction worker Sam Fitzpatrick.
The BC Building Trades lauds the charges of criminal negligence filed today against Peter Kiewit Sons and two of the construction company’s managers in the death of Fitzpatrick in 2009.
Although it took 10 long years to get to this point, this can be seen as a glimmer of hope that the safety of workers comes first, regardless of the size and the resources of the company they’re working for.
Fitzpatrick was crushed by a falling boulder on a hydroelectric project on B.C.’s Central Coast. At the time, a WorkSafeBC investigation found a “reckless disregard” for safety on the project. Kiewit was originally fined $250,000 but had that figure slashed to $100,000 on appeal.
The criminal charges announced today are unprecedented in B.C. and stem from a change to the Criminal Code that allows the prosecution of corporations in workplace accidents.
We hope that in addition to getting justice for Fitzpatrick, these charges serve as notice to unscrupulous companies that worksite safety is a goal and not a barrier at their operations.
It is unfortunate that the Fitzpatrick family had to spend the last 10 years fighting for this moment. Their fight will continue as this case makes its way through our court system. But they are not alone. A great deal of credit is due to the United Steelworkers, the B.C. Federation of Labour and others in the labour movement who have, as we always do, supported the cause of the worker.