Alberta company sentenced following workplace death of New Brunswick man, mother seeks change

An Alberta trucking company has been fined $ 100,000 and put on corporate probation for two years, following the workplace death of a New Brunswick man.  The mother of the victim said she wants to see similar sentencing rulings come to New Brunswick.

Jordan Gahan was operating an excavator on a work site in northern Alberta when he was killed on March 14, 2014.

The 21-year-old was running the excavator on top of ice, when the ice suddenly broke and the excavator went under four metres of water.

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READ MORE: Brayford Trucking apologizes to family of man killed in northern Alberta workplace accident: ‘We’re so very, very sorry’

Gahan’s family travelled from Fredericton to spend Friday in Calgary at the sentencing hearing of Brayford Trucking — Gahan’s employer.

Jordan’s mom Leica Gahan said the sentencing brings “some closure”.  She said it’s ‘ironic’ the hearing was on the National Day of Mourning.

“We’re grieving, I mean it’s been three years but it still feel like it just happened yesterday,” she said.  “Jordan was a fine young man with lots of promise.”

Gahan said she knows her family isn’t the only one suffering over the loss of a loved one who died on the job.

“The reality is there’s a lot of families that are suffering,” Gahan said.  “Three Canadians die every day.  There are other families that are losing people to workplace accidents every day and the law’s got to change, legislation has got to change, employers have to be held more responsible.”

Gahan said she and her family will continue to remember Jordan and try to work actively in promoting workplace health and safety in New Brunswick.

Brayford Trucking originally  faced five charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Three were withdrawn at sentencing. The company pleaded guilty to two charges and was fined $ 100,000.

“The second part of the sentencing is corporate probation which they have  I think there’s 23 conditions that they have to meet over the next two years,” Gahan said.

She added there are certain benchmarks and time frames that need to be met, along with a public acknowledgement of what happened.

READ MORE: Young man killed on East Athabasca Highway work site

“In Alberta, law states that anybody that is found guilty of [violating the] Occupational Health and Safety Act the maximum [fine] is $ 500,000 or six months in jail, but what they do is in Alberta they use something called ‘restorative justice’ because they find fines aren’t enough,” Gahan said.

She said that holds companies responsible and accountable for longer than they would be if they were to only be fined.  She said that means companies like Brayford Trucking will undergo more frequent inspections and will be held accountable to improve working conditions.

“Workplace deaths are often dealt with differently in New Brunswick and I want to dig deep with them and try to help them support families who have gone through what I’ve gone through,” Gahan said.

Gahan said she’s going to get actively involved with Threads of Life, an organization that supports families when they experience a workplace death.

“I think that people need to hear my story more often because three Canadian families today are going to hear the news that I heard on March 14 and three Canadian families are suffering right now because of a workplace accident that happened today it’s sad,” Gahan said,

She said his death was a “life sentence” for the family.

“We’ll always grieve the loss of Jordan, we never will ever really get over it,”Gahan said.

Gahan said she’s grateful for the outpouring of support she’s received from people back in New Brunswick.

Jordan was a stock car driver and competed at Speedway 660 near Fredericton.  His brother Jonathan will be driving Jordan’s car again this season. Leica Gahan said she’s looking forward to the season that starts in just over two weeks.

READ MORE: New Brunswick family finds the ‘drive’ to overcome son’s death

“We experienced so much support even when Jordan died and it continues, never ended, which we’re so thankful for and the racing community continues to be a great support,” Gahan said.

With files from 

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