Investigate Highway Death as Potential Criminal Case: Steelworkers

OTTAWA – The death of a courier driver on an Ottawa highway last Friday must be investigated as a potential criminal case, the United Steelworkers (USW) says.

“When a worker is killed on the job, justice cannot be served if the death is not investigated at the outset as a potential criminal case,” said USW Ontario Director Marty Warren.

“Criminal investigations must be considered first and foremost in all work-related fatalities,” Warren said.

Police reported that Gennadi Brianski, 50, of Carleton Place, Ont., was killed last Friday when the cargo van he was driving on Highway 417 in Ottawa was struck by a flying set of double wheels that had come loose from a tractor-trailer travelling in the opposite direction.

Police said the wheels bounced across three lanes of the highway and over the median before smashing into Gennadi Brianski’s van. Brianski, a longtime courier/delivery driver and a member of USW Local 1976, was beginning his workday at the time.

The company that owns the tractor trailer, as well as the truck’s driver, have been charged with Highway Traffic Act offences. However, the fatality must be investigated through a criminal lens, the USW says.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Gennadi Brianski’s grieving family, friends and co-workers,” said USW Local 1976 President Steve Hadden.

“This was a preventable death and everything must be done to prevent a similar tragedy in the future. Our members work in the transportation sector across Canada and cases like this not only put the general public at risk but also become a workplace issue,” Hadden said.

“It is alarming to learn through the media that reports of truck wheel separations in Ontario actually have increased significantly in recent years,” said USW National Director Ken Neumann.

From 2010 to 2012, an average of 67 incidents of wheel separations were reported in Ontario, according to the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada. From 2013 to 2016 there were an average of 139 such incidents per year, according to the council.

The USW is continuing to build public and political support for its national campaign, Stop the Killing, Enforce the Law, which calls for criminal investigations to be considered in all cases of work-related deaths.

The campaign urges federal, provincial and territorial governments to provide better training and direction for police, health and safety officers and Crown prosecutors for the investigation of workplace deaths and injuries.

“The Westray Act that was passed into law in 2004 after a decade of lobbying is supposed to hold employers criminally accountable for workplace deaths. However, there have been more than 10,000 workplace deaths since the law was passed and only one manager has received a prison sentence,” said Neumann.



For further information:

Ken Neumann, USW National Director, 416-544-5951
Marty Warren, USW Ontario Director, 416-243-8792, mwarren@usw.ca
Steve Hadden, USW Local 1976 President, 514-526-8280, shadden@1976usw.ca
Nancy Hutchison, USW National Health, Safety and Environment Leader, 416-544-6001, 647-403-9799, nhutchison@usw.ca
Sylvia Boyce, USW Ontario/Atlantic Health, Safety and Environment Coordinator, 416-544-5971, 905-741-9830, sboyce@usw.ca

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