Worker death at Hinton pulp mill under investigation: OHS

An investigation is ongoing following the death of a worker at a Hinton, Alta. pulp mill on Monday that prompted a stop work order for a scaffolding contractor.

A spokesperson for the province’s ministry of labour and immigration confirmed in an email that a worker fatality at the West Fraser Mills Hinton site was reported to Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) on the evening of Oct. 5th. 

A stop work order was issued to AlumaSafway — a scaffolding company that was a contractor at the site — for inadequate fall protection, according to the province.

 The OHS investigation is ongoing.

In an emailed statement, an AlumaSafway spokesperson confirmed that Norman Hatami was the worker who died.

“Norman was a highly respected member of the AlumaSafway team, and his passing represents an enormous personal loss to us, his family, and his loved ones,” said Karla Cuculi, vice president of communications.

Cuculi wrote that AlumaSafway is doing what it can to provide counselling and support to workers at the West Fraser site, and that it is assisting occupational health and safety officers in their investigation.

“Out of respect for Norman, his family, and the investigative process, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further until that process is complete,” she wrote. “Our most heartfelt condolences, thoughts, and prayers are with his family, friends, and all those that knew him.”

In its own statement, West Fraser Mills said that Hatami was setting up scaffolding as part of the mill’s maintenance work when he died.  

“The appropriate local authorities were called and a WCB investigation into the circumstances of the incident is underway. We are cooperating fully with the authorities,” spokesperson Tara Knight  wrote. “We are extremely saddened about this loss of life, and our thoughts are with the individual’s family at this time.”

Hatami is not the first worker to die at the mill: a spokesperson for the province confirmed that there was fatality at the same site in 2015 but with a different contractor, Winfield Industrial Sales Ltd.

In 2018, Winfield was convicted of failing to ensure workers used a fall protection system in the case. 

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