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2013-12-19 at 20:05

Inquest concludes

By Jodi Lundmark,
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The inquest into the death of a construction worker concluded Thursday evening after the jury came back with seven recommendations.

Lee Antoniak, 31, died April 9, 2012 after a dump truck fatally struck him while it was in reverse at a construction site at the former Thunder Bay Country Club.

After two days of testimony from Antoniak's coworkers, police, paramedics, the Ministry of Labour and an expert from the Centre for Forensic Sciences, the jury returned with seven recommendations. Three of those were for LTL Contracting, the firm hired to excavate the Golf Links Road property.

Antoniak's mother Virginia and wife Karen both said they were pleased with the recommendations, which included LTL use cameras as well as back-up and proximity sensors to reduce or eliminate the blind spot for heavy machine operators.

They also suggested LTL make sure everyone on site have personal communicators in addition to the radios in the equipment.

And because of the dangers of operating heavy equipment, it was recommended the company consider mandatory or random drug testing.

LTL president Scott MacLeod said the company has already been implementing two of the recommendations and as technology evolves, they will be able to completely fullfill the third recommendation with senors.

"This inquest is a tragic reminder that health and safety issues must be the top priority for all employers, at all workplaces, and at all times. LTL Contracting focuses continually on not only maintaining and improving safety standards at its work sites, but also educating its employees about the importance of safe work practices," said MacLeod in a statement released to media Thursday evening.

MacLeod said the entire LTL family continues to grieve the loss of Antoniak, who was a long-time employee; he will be deeply missed by his-coworkers and friends. 

"LTL Contracting, its owners, and its employees would like to send our respective condolences and support to the Antoniak family during this very difficult time," he said.

Recommendations for the Ministry of Labour included using alerts and blitzes to promote using cameras and back-up sensors on heavy machinery and raise awareness of workers' rights, responsibilities and the availability of the ministry hotline.

Testimony also revealed Antoniak had a small amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in his blood when he died, but it could have been a false positive and its impact is inconclusive.

The jury recommended the chief forensic pathologist of Ontario ensure all post-mortem sampling to detect drugs or poison include peripheral blood in order to better determine the levels of THC.

Crown attorney Daniel Mitchell said the recommendations reflect the concerns that were raised during the inquest.

"I believe they address the different areas such as a lack of appropriate sampling taken at post-mortems, the safety concerns in and around workplaces where heavy equipment is being operated in what became to be known as a tight work site," he said.


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