Irving Oil guilty of obstruction

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SAINT JOHN, N.B. — A provincial court has found Irving Oil guilty of obstructing an investigation by the New Brunswick Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission.

Provincial Court Justice, Alfred Brien, fined the company $10,000 and had harsh words for Irving’s conduct during the investigation into a construction worker’s death at an Irving refinery last year.

According to the judge’s ruling, “Even if you are large and powerful in the community, you still have to follow the rules.”

Richard Johnston, 22, of Alberta, died of head injuries after he was thrown from the bucket of a boom truck while working on an expansion at the sprawling Saint John oil refinery.

Johnston was not employed by the Irvings, but was working for a subcontractor at the site. Irving Oil was charged under the Occupational Health and Safety Act with obstructing the investigation after it confiscated a hydraulic cylinder that had been taken from the accident scene by provincial safety officers.

In a statement released yesterday, Irving again defended its actions stating, “We acted only to ensure evidence was protected so that the investigation would be thorough and complete.”

Although Irving admitted its actions may have violated the protocol of the Workplace, Health and Safety Compensation Commission, it says, “our actions in no way impeded the investigation.”

“The whole integrity of the system cannot be jeopardized because someone else believes they can do it better,” the judge explains.

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