Andrea Addario | CUPE national staff

Following a two-week coroner’s inquest into the 2009 death of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario city worker James (Jamie) Vecchio, CUPE 3 expressed appreciation for the jury’s recommendations. Vecchio was doing sewage work in an excavated hole when a mobile crane contracted by the city backed into the hole and crushed him.

“The jury accepted a number of CUPE’s recommendations in their verdict,” said CUPE 3 President Paul Beauchamp. “In particular, CUPE pushed for a tightening of rules and inspections concerning mobile cranes. The jury heard that, and accepted the need for clear certification procedures and annual inspections. We also pushed for mandatory carriage of air horns where heavy equipment is used, and the jury accepted that, too.”

The jury made nine recommendations to the Ministry of Transportation, to the City of Sault Ste. Marie, and to the Ministry of Labour. Beauchamp stressed that CUPE 3 will work to ensure the recommendations are implemented. CUPE National President Paul Moist emphasized the responsibility of municipalities like Sault Ste. Marie to maintain safe workplaces.

“The Ministry of Labour convicted Millennium Crane Rentals of failing to ensure the crane was maintained in a condition that would not endanger a worker,” said Moist. “It’s up to municipalities to ensure that they never contract with companies who fail to comply with safety standards and regulations.”

Beauchamp stressed how difficult it was for the many members who were on site the day Vecchio was killed to appear before the inquest and relive the tragedy. “They lost a friend, a co-worker that day. They know his family lost a dad and a husband. They understood how important it was to get to the bottom of what happened so that everyone can do what’s needed to make sure this never happens again,” Beauchamp said.

Beauchamp thanked the coroner’s jury for their work: “We were so impressed by the compassion and interest the jury showed in their questioning.”