Improper forklift use results in employee death

by Inside Logistics Online Staff

R.M. Bélanger Limited, a construction company based in Chelmsford, Ontario, pleaded guilty and was fined $210,000 after an employee was killed on the job.


In September 2018, the company was using the parking lot of a golf course in Sudbury to store wooden telephone poles. On September 17 of that year, a worker was dispatched with a truck and flatbed trailer to pick up a pole for use on a Bélanger construction site.

At the golf course, a Bélanger worker, who was also a supervisor, was working on the site.When the Bélanger truck pulled into the parking lot, that worker offered to load the required pole for the driver.

Load not secured

Using a machine equipped with a fork attachment, the worker picked up a pole and approached the flatbed trailer. The forks were not spread apart as far as possible, creating instability with the pole as the loader moved. The pole was not secured in any way to the forks.

The truck driver was on the flatbed trailer and had placed a long piece of lumber on the trailer to act as a stopper for the pole. The lumber was between the driver and the forklift’s approach.

The operator of the loader tilted the forks forward, dropping the pole onto the flatbed. The pole rolled toward the piece of lumber. Because the pole was warped, it rolled over the piece of lumber.

The driver, standing on the trailer, tried to jump over the rolling pole but was hit by the pole and knocked off the trailer. The pole rolled off the trailer, inflicting fatal injuries.

As a consequence of the trial, R.M. Bélanger Limited was found guilty on October 1, 2020 of two offences: failing to use a safe procedure for loading a pole onto a flatbed trailer; and failing to ensure that no worker was in an endangered position during the loading of a pole onto a flatbed trailer. These were both contrary to section 25(2)(h) of the Ontario Health and Safety Act.

The company was also assessed a 25 percent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. The surcharge is credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.