Investigation continues into fatality at Victoria metal recycling company

Employees receive grief counselling, will be given time to absorb tragedy

Operations at Steel Pacific Recycling in Victoria were scaled back Monday following the workplace death of an employee on Saturday afternoon.

Investigators with WorkSafeBC and the company’s accident investigation team were at the yard in Victoria’s Rock Bay district Monday, while grief counsellors, a critical incident team and company officials met with about 25 yard employees at an off-site location.

“They’re a close-knit team and this was a well-liked person,” Caroll Taiji, the company’s communications consultant, said of the 35-year-old victim, who was originally from Nanaimo. He had worked for the company in Victoria for more than three years.

“It’s really devastating for them,” Taiji said. “This company in that location has existed and operated for over 50 years. They have never had a fatality, so there’s a huge amount of shock.”

The man was killed in an area of the yard where finer materials are salvaged from crushed automobiles, Taiji explained.

“The worker was caught in the machinery somehow and fatally injured,” confirmed WorkSafeBC spokesperson Megan Johnston.

Once the B.C. Coroners Service receives WorkSafeBC’s final report, the coroners team will decide whether health and safety practices in B.C.’s steel recycling industry warrant a closer look to prevent future deaths in similar circumstances, said Victoria coroner Barb McLintock.

The company was quick to note that the worker’s death was not caused by a shredder, despite initial reports.

“In fact, the shredding machine is decommissioned and it’s been closed for over a year, so it hasn’t even been functioning,” Taiji said.

Lessons that can be learned from this tragedy will be shared company-wide, she said.

“Anything that can be gleaned and learned and shared, will be.”

Company officials could not say Monday when the Victoria operation would re-open for business.

“The management team is very focused on not restoring operations until people are absolutely ready,” Taiji said. “The main focus is the family and the co-workers.”

emccracken@vicnews.com

Did you know?

• In B.C., 143 workers died in 2010 as a result of work-related incidents or occupational diseases.