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Lack of safety planning led to truck's plunge off ferry ramp, report finds

Apr 08 2012

A lack of safety planning and a series of miscommunications led to a dump truck plunging off a Nanaimo Harbour ferry terminal trestle last August, a B.C. Ferries investigation has found.

Three workers narrowly escaped serious injury when a truck, at the terminal for an overnight paving job, drove over the foot passenger portion of the timber trestle and the structure crumbled under its weight, the report says.

The paving company, Royal Paving, declined to participate in the investigation or comment on its findings.

B.C. Ferries "employees heard the sound of wood breaking and observed the asphalt truck - falling backward," the report reads. "As the truck fell, portions of the stringers and planks on the pedestrian side of the trestle broke away and fell into the water."

The truck, listed as 8.8 metres long and with a gross vehicle weight rating of 34,000 kilograms, landed on its roof in the water. The driver escaped with only a cut on his hand.

A B.C. Ferries employee in a workboat under the trestle avoided serious injury when the stringers and planks from the trestle fell into the water "all around the workboat," the report says.

A worker in an asphalt spreader was moving toward the truck when the trestle began to collapse, the report said. The worker was able to dismount and move away from the spreader, which was hanging over the trestle.

The report faulted poor communication between the co-owners of the paving company about the hazards of the pedestrian walkway. It also found that while there were site visits, no written work plans were completed for the project and there was a lack of analysis of on-site risks.

The report made nine recommendations, including that all contractors conduct a safety audit before starting work, that B.C. Ferries audit the safety practices of its contractors, and that one Ferries employee and one contract worker should be dedicated to communicating on-site safety concerns.

B.C. Ferries media spokeswoman Deborah Marshall said all of the recommendations had been implemented, and that a suggested review of all other Ferries-managed trestles for restricted vehicle safety issues was completed within days of the accident.

Royal Paving co-owner Jeff McDonald, after legal consultation, said the accident was "an ongoing matter" between B.C. Ferries and his company but declined to elaborate.

"Royal Paving is very proud of their safety record for their 23 years in business," he said.

Regular ferry service to Gabriola Island from the terminal was suspended for more than two as an estimated $300,000 worth of repairs were made on the 47-year-old trestle.

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